- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NEW YORK | Better news on retail sales and manufacturing helped send stocks higher Tuesday, as did comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke that the recession is probably over.

Surging materials and industrial companies such as Alcoa and Caterpillar helped pull the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a gain of 57 points in quiet trading. Manufacturers are expected to be among the early beneficiaries if the economy strengthens and demand picks up.

Hopes for a rebound grew after the government reported that retail sales jumped in August by the biggest amount in three years. The Fed’s index of manufacturing in the New York region rose to its best level since late 2007.

Those doses of positive economic news helped allay concerns about a separate government report finding that inflation at the wholesale level rose last month at double the rate analysts expected. Meanwhile, Mr. Bernanke cheered investors by saying that the worst recession since the 1930s has “very likely” ended.

Investors shrugged off news that wholesale prices rose 1.7 percent last month, and disappointing earnings from two major retailers, Best Buy Co. and Kroger Co., also failed to push the stock market off course.

The Dow rose 56.61, or 0.6 percent, to 9,683.41, its highest close since Oct. 6, when it finished at 9,956.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.29, or 0.3 percent, to 1,052.63, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 10.86, or 0.5 percent, to 2,102.64.

The government’s report that retail sales jumped 2.7 percent in August boosted confidence in the economy. Analysts say improvements in consumer spending are crucial to a recovery.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 3.45 percent from 3.43 percent late Monday.

The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies rose 4.81, or 0.8 percent, to 604.84.

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