U.S. Stocks Rally

U.S. stocks gained in the last hour of trading as a rally in energy and technology shares overpowered a drop in homebuilder confidence to the lowest level on record.

Hewlett-Packard Co. jumped 14 percent as earnings topped analysts' estimates, while Exxon Mobil Corp. climbed more than 4 percent. The advance in equities accelerated in the final 15 minutes of trading as investors tracking the Standard & Poor's 500 Index bought shares to replace Anheuser-Busch Cos., which was removed from the gauge after its takeover by InBev NV.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 1 percent to 859.11. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 151.17 points, or 1.8 percent, to 8,424.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,483.27. About six stocks retreated for every five that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

European stocks rose after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said he saw signs the credit market was improving and Hewlett-Packard Co. reported better- than-expected earnings, easing concern the recession will snuff out profits.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 0.3 percent at 200.99 at 3:54 p.m. in London, reversing an earlier decline of as much as 2.2 percent. National benchmark indexes retreated in 13 of the 18 markets in western Europe. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.7 percent, and France's CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX added 0.3 percent.

Asian stocks fell for a second day, led by financial and technology companies, on heightening concern that the global recession is worsening.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 3.1 percent to 80.21 as of 7:18 p.m. in Tokyo, extending yesterday's 0.4 percent drop. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slumped 2.3 percent to 8,328.41. Mitsubishi Estate Co. led property developers lower after the Nikkei newspaper said the nation's condominium market will be weak in 2009.

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg.com
11/18/2008 1:21:35 PM