Thursday, April 2, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - An increasingly confident Wall Street is gearing up for another jump.

Stock futures surged Thursday as the world’s finance leaders discussed the global economy. Investors were enthusiastic about word from the London meeting of financial regulatory changes and increased funding for the International Monetary Fund.

Investors have also grown optimistic that data in recent weeks have suggested a bottoming-out of the economy, at least in the United States. Since a nearly 12-year low on March 9, the Dow Jones industrials are up 18.6 percent.

After better-than-expected readings Wednesday on pending home sales, manufacturing activity and auto sales, the market will get data on U.S. factory orders in February and last week’s jobless claims. The most highly anticipated gauge of the week, though, arrives on Friday: the Labor Department’s March jobs report.

Ahead of the market’s open, Dow futures rose 119, or 1.5 percent, to 7,837. Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures rose 13.70, or 1.7 percent, to 822.90. Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 21.25, or 1.7 percent, to 1,272.25.

On Wednesday, the first day of the second quarter, the major indexes gained 1.5 percent, as investors focused on stronger-than-expected readings and shrugged off a report from a private research group that boded badly for Friday’s employment data.

The Dow Jones Total Stock Market index, which reflects nearly all stocks traded in the United States, has gained 20.2 percent _ or $1.6 trillion _ since March 9.

Analysts are quick to point out, however, that stocks are still well below their October 2007 record highs, and that market rebounds are typically volatile. Investors got a taste of volatility on Monday, when stocks dropped sharply as the Obama administration raised the possibility of a U.S. automaker bankruptcy.

The release of first-quarter earnings in the coming weeks could also threaten the rally. The market is bracing for dismal results, but might get thwarted if companies say business conditions are still deteriorating.

Bond prices slipped in early trading Thursday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 2.72 percent from 2.66 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, was flat at 0.21 percent.

Crude oil rose $2.31 to $50.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar was mostly lower against other major currencies.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 4.4 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 2.9 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 3.9 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 3.4 percent.


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