GE jumped 6 percent, halting a five-day retreat, as analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. said the finance unit has adequate funding. Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. advanced 2.9 percent as oil reached $46.30 a barrel. The Dow erased a 124-point drop that followed a morning rally spurred by a slower rate of job cuts in February.
The Dow average increased 32.50 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,626.94 at 4 p.m. in New York after sinking as low as 6,469.95. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.1 percent to 683.38, rebounding from a 2.3 percent decline.
For the week, the Dow average lost 6.2 percent, matching its worst retreat since October, while the S&P 500’s 7 percent drop was the steepest in 14 weeks. GE slid 17 percent on concern losses are growing at its finance unit, which makes up about 37 percent of its revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
European stocks dropped, capping the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index’s fourth straight weekly decline, as financial shares tumbled and the U.S. unemployment rate climbed to the highest level in more than a quarter century.
UniCredit SpA and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Italy’s largest banks, slid more than 7 percent, sending the country’s S&P/MIB Index below 13,000 for the first time amid concern an economic slowdown at home and in Eastern Europe will weight on earnings. Wolseley Plc sank 15 percent after the biggest distributor of heating and plumbing gear announced plans to sell shares.
The Stoxx 600 retreated 1.3 percent to 159.52, the lowest since November 1996. The measure fluctuated between gains and losses before retreating in the last 90 minutes of trading. An earlier report showed the American unemployment rate climbed to 8.1 percent last month, while the number of jobs lost was in line with economists’ estimates.
National benchmark indexes declined in 16 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 was little changed, while Germany’s DAX dropped 0.8 percent and France’s CAC 40 slipped 1.4 percent. Italy’s S&P/MIB retreated 4.6 percent.
Asian stocks fell, dragging the regional benchmark index to a fourth weekly decline, on renewed concern losses at financial institutions will mount as the global recession deepens.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 1 percent to 72.37 as of 7:31 p.m. in Tokyo, following a two-day, 1.8 percent gain. The gauge lost 4 percent this week, taking declines in the past year to 50 percent, as the global recession pummeled profits at companies including BHP and Honda.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average slumped 3.5 percent to 7,173.10. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 2.4 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.4 percent. All Asian markets declined except Taiwan, India and Sri Lanka.