Dow bounces back over 11,000 level
NEW YORK » Wall Street rallied for a second session yesterday as strong earnings from Bear Stearns Cos. and mild economic data helped stocks regain their footing after several weeks of hefty losses. The Dow Jones industrials surged almost 200 points to surpass the closely watched 11,000 level.
Although the day's data gave mixed signals on economic growth, investors again brushed aside worries about inflation and interest rates following a month of selling that pulled the Dow down more than 8 percent. The Dow jumped 110 points Wednesday as investors came to terms with the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will hike rates later this month.
The market turned sharply higher yesterday afternoon after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said record energy and commodity prices could account for some of the recent uptick in core prices but that inflation expectations have remained within historical ranges.
Despite recent signs of a slowing economy, analysts say inflationary pressures remain a risk and that higher interest rates could put a serious dent in economic growth. The Fed has said it would sacrifice growth to keep prices from rising.
"This looks mostly like a continued part of the rebound from the big selloff," said Ed Peters, chief investment officer at PanAgora Asset Management. He noted that the rally may have been driven by short sellers buying stocks to cover their positions following weeks of declines.
The Dow jumped 198.27, or 1.83 percent, to 11,015.19, finishing above the 11,000 mark for the first time since June 6. After shedding 186 points on Monday and Tuesday to fall into the red for the first time this year, the Dow saw its best two-day run since April 2003 and the index is now back in positive territory for 2006.
Broader stock indicators also saw strong gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 26.12, or 2.12 percent, to 1,256.16, and the Nasdaq composite index surged 58.15, or 2.79 percent, to 2,144.15.
Bonds slumped as stocks rose, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rising to 5.1 percent from 5.06 percent late Wednesday. However, the continued inversion of short- and long-term yields signaled investor expectations of a slowing economy.
Wall Street's recovery led overseas stock markets higher. Japan's Nikkei stock average gained 1.13 percent.
Despite two days of sturdy gains, some analysts were skeptical about whether Wall Street has finally reversed course. Stocks are expected to remain volatile until the Fed issues its opinion on the economy's health at the June 28-29 policy meeting.