Most U.S. Stocks Gain

Most U.S. stocks gained, extending the second straight weekly advance, as President George W. Bush’s rescue plan for carmakers assuaged concern that a collapse of the industry would threaten millions of jobs.

General Motors Corp. rallied as Bush announced $13.4 billion in emergency loans for the largest U.S. automaker and rival Chrysler LLC. Ford Motor Co. jumped 3.9 percent, while car-parts supplier ArvinMeritor Inc. climbed 5.9 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased a 182-point advance as Citigroup Inc. slid 5.5 percent after its debt ratings were cut, while Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. retreated almost 3 percent as oil tumbled below $33 a barrel.

About three stocks gained for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.3 percent to 887.88. The Dow decreased 25.88 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,579.11. The Russell 2000 Index of small U.S. companies climbed 1.5 percent.

European stocks declined for a third straight day, led by commodity producers, on concern the deteriorating global economy will sap demand for metals and oil.

BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company by market value, and Total SA sank more than 1.7 percent as crude slid. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, retreated 1.8 percent on lower metals prices. UBS AG led banks lower as Standard & Poor’s cut ratings and changed outlooks for 12 U.S. and European financial institutions.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slipped 0.5 percent to 196.43, extending this week’s drop to 0.9 percent. The gauge is down 46 percent in 2008 as credit losses and writedowns at the world’s largest banks surpassed $1 trillion and the U.S., Europe and Japan entered the first simultaneous recessions since World War II.

Asian stocks advanced to a six-week high, led by financial companies, on speculation lower interest rates and declining oil prices will reduce costs for companies and help revive economic growth.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.7 percent to 90.87 as of 7:08 p.m. in Tokyo, its highest close since Nov. 5. About five stocks gained for every three that fell on the index.

The gauge has rallied 21 percent since reaching a five-year low on Nov. 20 as governments from China to the U.S. took steps to protect their economies from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The index is still headed for a record 43 percent annual drop, pushing shares to an average price of 12.9 times estimated earnings, almost a quarter less than at the start of the year.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average added 0.6 percent to 8,667.23, led by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. Most markets in Asia advanced, with Thailand rising for an eighth day, the longest winning streak in almost four years.,
12/19/2008 1:25:02 PM