- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009

UPDATED:

Wall Street posted solid gains Thursday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 8,000 again on a better-than-anticipated profit report by Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo has forecast a record $3 billion profit for the first quarter, assuring investors anxious about upcoming earning reports by banks, which will show whether credit markets have improved in the global recession.

The Dow closed at 8,083.38, up 246.27 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stocks Index closed 31.39 points up, to 856.55, and the NASDAQ closed at 1,652.54, up 61.88 points.

The last time the Dow closed above the 8,000 mark was April 3, and before that was early February.

Wells Fargo stock was up more than 29 percent in the final minutes of trading. Bank of American stock was up 35.98 percent, and Citigroup Inc. was up more than 12 percent.

The gains Thursday followed a Labor Department report released in the morning that showed new claims for jobless benefit fell more than expected last week, but ongoing claims reached a record high for the 11th straight time.

Initial claims for state unemployment-insurance benefits for the week ending April 4 dropped 20,000, to an adjusted 654,000. The revised number for the previous week is 674,000, according to the agency.

The gains also came amid mixed monthly sales reports from retailers.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported lower-than-expected sales in March, which resulted in it shares dropping 1.95 percent. Target Corp. rose 2.29 percent after better-than-anticipated numbers.

Earlier in the day, Dow futures closed up 202.00 points, to 7,995.00. S&P 500 futures closed at 849.00, up 26.40 points, and NASDAQ 100 futures closed 35.50 points up, to 1,334.00.

Wall Street closed Wednesday with slight gains with investors seizing on upbeat housing and insurance news but still remaining cautious on looming corporate-earnings reports.

Pulte Homes Inc. announcement that would will buy Centex Corp. in a $1.3 billion deal that will create the biggest home-building company in the country. And the Treasury Department announced it will extend bailout money to some struggling life-insurance companies, a major part of the U.S. financial system.


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