Stocks surge again as data reassure traders

Wall Street scored its second straight big advance Thursday after economic figures suggested the job market is holding up and as lawmakers agreed on measures that could ease concerns about consumer spending. The Dow Jones industrials rose more than 100 points, bringing its two-day gain to more than 400.

While stocks fluctuated throughout the session, trading was decidedly calmer than on Wednesday, when Wall Street executed a stunning turnaround that transformed a sharp sell-off into big gains for stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 108.44, or 0.88 percent, to 12,378.61, following a nearly 300 point surge on Wednesday. The Dow has not finished higher for two straight sessions since Jan. 9-10.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 13.47, or 1.01 percent, to 1,352.07, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 44.51, or 1.92 percent, to 2,360.92.

Banks report drop in quarterly earnings

Community Bancorp of Las Vegas on Thursday reported that fourth-quarter income decreased to $3.8 million from $5.4 million a year ago. Earnings per share dropped to 36 cents from 54 cents in the final quarter of the prior year.

Since the third quarter, nonperforming loans rose to $12.1 million from $7.7 million. Gross loans grew by $45.5 million since September to $1.4 billion. During the third quarter of last year, gross loans edged up by $7.3 million.

On Tuesday, Western Alliance Bancorporation of Las Vegas reported that fourth-quarter net income dropped to $2.4 million from $9 million in the same period a year earlier. Earnings per share fell to 8 cents, after deducting 19 cents for loan loss reserves, from 31 cents in the last quarter of the prior year.


Ford to offer buyouts and early retirement

Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers.

Ford President and Chief Executive Alan Mulally said the automaker will also trim salaried staff, mostly through attrition but possibly through layoffs, as it tries to adjust to a slumping U.S. market.

Ford said its U.S. market share will be at the low end of a 14 percent to 15 percent range in 2008, down from 14.8 percent in 2007 and 26 percent a decade ago. Ford fell behind Toyota Motor Corp. in U.S. sales last year, ceding its 75-year position as the nation’s No. 2 auto seller trailing behind General Motors Corp.

Ford lost $2.8 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the fourth quarter, narrower than a loss of $5.6 billion, or $2.98 per share, in 2006.

The full-year loss of $2.7 billion, or $1.35 per share, was better than 2006, when Ford lost $12.6 billion, or $6.72 per share.

Ford shares fell 4 cents, or 0.63 percent, Thursday to close at $6.28 on the New York Stock Exchange.


Treasury prices slide as stocks head higher

Treasury prices declined Thursday as the stock market extended a lively rebound into a second session.

The 10-year benchmark note fell 0.31 points to 104.93 with a yield of 3.64 percent, up from 3.60 percent late Wednesday. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

The 30-year long bond dropped 0.75 points to 110 0.59 points with a yield of 4.35 percent, up from 4.32 percent late Wednesday.


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