Good news from near and far boosts stocks

Sunday, December 6, 2009

U.S. stocks rose last week, lifting the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to its biggest gain in three weeks, boosted

by an unexpected drop in the U.S. unemployment rate and a report that Chinese manufacturing grew at the fastest pace in five years. The rise also came as investors speculated that a Middle Eastern debt crisis had been averted.

Bank of America climbed 5.2 percent as it agreed to repay government bailout funds. A measure of S&P 500 semiconductor stocks added 7.3 percent, the most in four months, as analysts said the industry is rebounding.

The November unemployment report showed that employers had cut the fewest jobs since the recession began and that the jobless rate fell to 10.0 percent, from 10.2 percent the month before.

"What you're seeing for the most part in the markets is a spreading awareness that recovery is upon us," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Cleveland-based Key Private Bank.

The S&P 500, up four weeks out of the past five, climbed 1.3 percent, to 1105.98. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.8 percent, to 10,388.90. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 2.6 percent, to 2194.35, after two weeks of losses.

The Labor Department said 11,000 jobs were lost last month, less than one-tenth the 125,000 median estimate by economists.

Concern eased over a possible default by Dubai World after the state-controlled holding company began talks to restructure $26 billion of debt.

The Treasury will auction $30 billion of three-month bills and $31 billion of six-month bills on Monday. They yielded 0.6 percent and 0.17 percent, respectively, in when-issued trading. The Treasury will sell one-month bills Tuesday.

-- Bloomberg News

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