- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

U.S. stocks advanced, erasing the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 2009 loss, as Bank of America Corp. rallied on higher profit estimates and investors bought shares of utilities and phone companies.

Bank of America advanced 5.8 percent. Dynegy Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp. led electricity companies to the biggest gains in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, and AT&T; Inc. rallied as investors bought companies less reliant on economic growth.

The S&P; 500 added 0.1 percent to a seven-month high of 946.21, jumping 0.5 percent in the final 13 minutes of trading. The Dow climbed 28.34 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,799.26. The Russell 2000 Index of small companies rose 0.1 percent to 526.83.

“Today was a counter-trend day because defensives did better,” said Kevin Shacknofsky, a Purchase, N.Y.-based money manager at Alpine Mutual Funds. “The brokers are doing really well this quarter. They’re benefiting from good conditions in the capital markets.”

Stocks have now advanced four consecutive weeks. The Dow become the last major U.S. stock gauge to give investors a profit for the year, as confidence increased that the worst recession since World War II is ending.

The index, down 25 percent on March 9 after its worst start to a year, completed its recovery Friday. American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card company; International Business Machines Corp., the largest computer services provider; and Cisco Systems Inc., the biggest networking-equipment maker, led the average’s 2009 advance.

The 113-year-old average wiped out its 2009 loss two weeks after the S&P; 500 and Russell 2000.

Bank of America had the biggest gain in the Dow for the second day in a row, adding 6 percent to $13.73. Stifel Nicolaus & Co. raised its 2010 and 2011 profit forecasts. At least four other Wall Street firms have either upgraded or increased profit or share-price forecasts for Bank of America, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, this week.

Utilities in the S&P; 500 added 1.4 percent as a group, the most among 10 industries. Dynegy rose 3.8 percent to $2.47, and FirstEnergy advanced 3.6 percent to $40.48.

Phone companies in the index climbed 0.9 percent. AT&T; increased 0.9 percent to $25.01. Qwest Communications International Inc. rallied 4.6 percent to $4.32.

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