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U.S. stocks rise on Greek austerity vote

Published by Nigerian Compass on Thu, 16 Feb 2012

United States (U.S.) stocks rose, after the first weekly loss for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index in 2012, as Greece approved austerity plans to secure rescue funds.Financial shares had the biggest advance in the S&P 500 among 10 groups. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Citigroup Inc. (C) added at least 1.7 per cent as a measure of European lenders gained. Apple Inc. (AAPL) rose 1.4 per cent and traded above $500 for the first time. Chesapeake Energy Corp. added 0.9 per cent after the natural-gas driller said it's targeting as much as $12 billion in asset sales and joint ventures this year. The S&P 500 increased 0.5 per cent to 1,348.95 at 11:02 a.m. New York time, paring an earlier gain of as much as 0.7 per cent as chipmakers slumped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 47.23 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 12,848.46 today. 'This has been a broad risk-on rally,' Mike Ryan, the New York-based chief investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a telephone interview. 'The fact that the Greek Parliament was able to push through the austerity measures was widely expected. This eliminates one of the stumbling blocks, but it doesn't solve the Greek issue. The issue now is the next step in this process. Our view is that Greece is going to struggle to make payments going forward.' Global stocks gained today as Germany and the European Commission welcomed Greek approval of the austerity steps demanded for a financial lifeline, suggesting euro finance chiefs will pull Greece back from the brink when they meet in two days. Euro-area finance ministers will convene in Brussels on Feb. 15 for the second extraordinary meeting on Greece in a week. The S&P 500 has climbed 6.8 per cent in 2012 through February10, including a 4.4 per cent rally last month, on expectations the global economy will withstand the impact of the euro area's debt crisis and as central banks lowered funding costs for lenders. The index fell last week, snapping the longest rally since January 2011, on concern that plans to help Greece avoid default were unraveling. The KBW Bank Index (BKX) added 0.9 per cent as 17 of its 24 stocks advanced. Bank of America rose 2.1 percent to $8.24. Citigroup climbed 1.7 per cent to $33.48. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) gained 0.9 percent to $115.19. The first-quarter profit estimate for the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets was raised 21 per cent at International Strategy & Investment Group Inc., after an oil discovery near Angola boosted the value of one of the firm's investments. Apple added 1.4 per cent to $500.29, after rallying for four straight weeks. On January 24, the largest technology company reported quarterly profit that more than doubled. Its earnings are expanding so fast that even with the rally, the shares are trading at less than half their median valuation since 1990, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The gain since Apple reported results is almost four times as large as the advance in the Nasdaq 100 Index. 'It reminds us all of the amazing transformation of Apple over the past eight years,' Timothy Ghriskey, who oversees $2 billion as chief investment officer of Solaris Group LLC in Bedford Hills, New York, said in a telephone interview today. 'We think the stock has higher to go, $600 is next,' he said. 'It's still an inexpensive stock for a company that is executing at the very highest level and continues to innovate.' Chesapeake added 0.9 per cent to $22.32. The company expects to get $10 billion to $12 billion from transactions including the potential sale of all assets in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, Chesapeake said in a statement today. U.S. stocks may extend gains this year and mirror the performance of 1995, when the S&P 500 rallied 34 per cent even after Mexico devalued its currency and Treasury yields dropped, Laszlo Birinyi said. Improved investor sentiment, central-bank actions and optimism that U.S. economic data will beat estimates, will sustain gains even after the best January for the S&P 500 since 1997, the president of Birinyi Associates Inc. in Westport, Connecticut, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. 'We still think you should buy stocks,' the fund manager said in London. 'It's a continuation of the bull market and we're encouraged by what we are seeing in Europe. I look at the markets, I find they are strong. There's real buying going on. This is not short-covering or a temporary or transitory thing.
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