Stocks Gain

Stocks in the U.S. and Europe rose, extending the biggest monthly rally for global equities since 2003, on speculation banks have grown more eager to lend and as investors bought March’s best-performers., Bloomberg 3/31/2009 1:47:46 PM

Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., HSBC Holdings Plc and Banco Santander SA gained at least 5 percent after the TED spread, the difference between what lenders and the Treasury pay to borrow for three months, fell to 0.99 percentage point. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has surged 18 percent since March 9, the largest 16-day increase since 1982, according to the firm’s index analyst Howard Silverblatt.

The S&P 500 climbed 1.3 percent to 797.87 today, paring its advance after General Motors Corp. told dealers March sales trailed estimates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 86.90 points, or 1.2 percent, to 7,608.92. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed markets rose 1.5 percent to 804.54, extending its gain since Feb. 27 to 7.1 percent, the most for a month in six years.

The S&P 500 rose 8.5 percent in March, trimming its 2009 decline to 12 percent, after Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said they made money in January and February and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced plans to rid financial firms of toxic assets.

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index rose 2.1 percent in March, the first monthly gain since August.