- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wall Street resumed its rally Tuesday, with large investors buying bank and technology stocks to bolster portfolios at the close of the first quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 7,608.92, up 86.90 points. The S&P 500 index closed at 797.86, up 10.34 points, and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 26.79 points to close at 1,528.59. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.78, or 1.6 percent, to 422.75.

The increases added to the biggest monthly gains for U.S. markets since 2002 and ended a two-day slide, including the Dow’s more than 250-point loss Monday.

The Dow is up more than 20 percent since early March, an increase that analysts take as a sign the economy is recovering.

Investors on Tuesday bought such big-name stocks as Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Google Inc. and International Business Machines Corp., despite lackluster economic numbers released early in the day.

Analysts said the gains were in part “window dressing,” or traders swapping losers for top performers to impress investor clients.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city housing index showed home prices fell a record 19 percent from January 2008 to January 2009, the largest drop since the index started in 2000. The 10-city index dropped 19.4 percent, also a new record.

All 20 cities in the report showed monthly and annual price declines, with 13 posting annual records. Prices fell more than 10 percent in 14 cities including Washington, D.C., where prices plunged 19.3 percent. Faring better were Dallas, Denver and Cleveland, with annual price declines of around 5 percent.

In addition, the Conference Board, a private research group, reported its Consumer Confidence Index increased slightly from February to March, from 25.3 to 26.

Google stock increased after the company reached a deal Monday with the Walt Disney Co. to show short videos from Disney’s ABC and ESPN networks on Google’s YouTube site. Disney shares increased 49 cents, to $18.34. Google stocks rose $7.21, to $349.90.

General Motors Corp. dropped 34 cents to $2.36, following concerns the Obama administration will force the company into bankruptcy in 60 days unless it can hasten its restructuring plan, including cutting its debt.

Lennar Corp. slid 14 percent to $7.51. The fourth-biggest U.S. homebuilder posted a wider first-quarter loss as the housing slump cut orders by 28 percent and forced the company to write down land.

Analysts said investors were encouraged by Lincoln National, which wants $3 billion in government aid. The insurance company’s stock increased 17 percent after announcing it would repay $500 million in early April. The analysts anticipate other insurance companies will follow.

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