S&P 500 index hits 15-month high

Sunday, December 27, 2009

U.S. stocks rose last week, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to a 15-month high, as gains for commodities boosted metal producers and reports showed the economy is improving.

Alcoa and U.S. Steel helped lead a measure of raw-material producers in the S&P 500 up 4.2 percent, the biggest gain in six weeks. American International Group added 6.9 percent, the most since September, as the insurer reportedly halted an initial public offering of its Chartis property-casualty unit.

The S&P 500 gained 2.2 percent to end the holiday-shortened week at 1126.48. By surpassing 1120.84, the index has now recovered half of its loss from the 17-month bear market that ended in March. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 1.9 percent, to 10,520.10. The Nasdaq composite index gained 3.3 percent, to 2285.69.

"I'm optimistic on the market, at least for the first half of the year," said Ethan A. Anderson, a senior money manager for Rehmann in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Investors and the stock market are making up."

U.S. exchanges closed three hours early on Dec. 24 and were shut the next day for Christmas.

The S&P 500 has risen five straight days, the longest winning streak in almost two months, as sales of existing homes topped forecasts and consumer spending rose. The S&P 500 is up 25 percent this year, the largest annual gain since 2003.

The government is scheduled to sell a record-tying $118 billion of two-, five- and seven-year notes this week. The Treasury Department will auction $28 billion of three-month bills and $29 billion of six- month bills on Monday. They yielded 0.03 percent and 0.16 percent, respectively, in when-issued trading. One-month bills will be sold Tuesday.

-- Bloomberg News

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