U.S. Stocks Rise


U.S. stocks rallied to the highest level this month as JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s increased bid for Bear Stearns Cos. and a gain in home sales boosted speculation the economy will recover from $200 billion in credit losses.

Bear Stearns, which almost collapsed before the Federal Reserve helped broker a takeover, nearly doubled after JPMorgan raised its offer to about $10 a share from $2.52. Tiffany & Co., the second-largest luxury jewelry retailer, climbed the most in more than two years on better-than-forecast earnings. Monsanto Co., the biggest seed producer, posted its steepest advance since January after UBS AG advised buying the shares.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 20.37 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,349.88 as nine of its 10 industry groups advanced. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 187.32, or 1.5 percent, to 12,548.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 68.64, or 3 percent, to 2,326.75. Nine stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The S&P 500 trimmed its loss for the year to 8.1 percent and posted its first back-to-back gains of the month. The market extended its rally after an industry report showed existing home sales climbed in February for the first time in seven months. Asian shares advanced, led by Taiwan's biggest increase in six weeks. All major European markets were closed for a holiday.

The S&P 500 climbed 3.2 percent last week after the Federal Reserve injected more cash into the banking system and Wall Street's largest securities firms reported earnings that topped estimates.

The Russell 2000 Index, a benchmark for companies with a median market value of $532 million, gained 2.9 percent to 701.28. The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Index, the broadest measure of U.S. shares, rose 1.8 percent to 13,570.78. Based on its advance, the value of stocks increased by $293 billion.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
3/24/2008 2:56:53 PM