- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NEW YORK | Signs of strength in several corners of the economy are helping extend the stock market’s rally.

Stocks jumped again Monday following news that CIT Group Inc. had struck a financing deal that will keep the troubled commercial lender out of bankruptcy. More upbeat earnings reports and a better-than-expected read on future economic activity also drove shares higher.

A 100-point gain pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average back into the black for the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed to its highest finish since November.

CIT’s deal with its bondholders stoked the market’s growing sense of optimism, which got a big boost last week from a string of good earnings news. That sent the Dow and the S&P; 500 to their best week since the market began to rally in March.

A surprisingly large rise in a predictor of future economic activity also supported stocks. The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.7 percent in June, more than the 0.4 percent forecast. It was the third straight month of increases.

Market indicators jumped about 7 percent last week following a monthlong slide driven by discouraging reports on the economy. Solid earnings and outlooks from leading companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. gave investors hope that the worst of the recession could be past.

The Dow rose 104.21, or 1.2 percent, to 8,848.15, its highest level since Jan. 6. The last time the Dow was this high stocks were just about to endure a steep drop that left the blue chips at a 12-year low March 9. The S&P; 500 rose 10.75, or 1.1 percent, to 951.13, its best finish since Nov. 5.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 22.68, or 1.2 percent, to 1,909.29, its ninth straight advance. The index is at its highest mark since Oct. 3, which was during the most furious selling of the credit crisis.

Among the earnings news, toymaker Hasbro Inc.’s profit rose 5 percent, beating expectations, as strong U.S. revenue offset international sales hurt by the stronger dollar. The stock gained 4.2 percent, rising $1.07 to $26.45.

Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.61 percent from 3.66 percent late Friday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 7.74, or 1.5 percent, to 526.96.

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