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While you were sleeping: BusinessWire overnight wrap

Friday 11th July 2008

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Wall Street advanced after Dow Chemicals said it would buy a rival and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said everything possible was being done to restore calm to financial markets. Optimism was checked by another rise in the price of crude oil.

Dow’s $15.3 billion bid for Rohm and Haas gave investors confidence that there was value in the sector. Rohm and Haas stock soared 64 per cent and was one of the top advancers in the S&P 500.

Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Congress they were doing everything possible to restore calm to financial markets, but stressed to lawmakers that a longer-term regulatory overhaul was vital to avert future crises.

The S&P 500 added 8.7, or 0.7%, to 1,253.39. The benchmark for American equities closed down 20% from its October 9 peak yesterday, marking its first bear market since 2002. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 81.58, or 0.7%, to 11,229.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 22.96, or 1%, to 2,257.85. About three stocks rose for every two that dropped on the New York Stock Exchange.

Freddie and Fannie

Shares of the top two US mortgage finance companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were the hardest hit by lingering credit fears. Freddie Mac dropped 22% to $8 and Fannie Mae lost 13.8% to $13.20.

Lehman Brothers stock slid 12.4% to $17.30, but closed off its session low at $15.73. Pimco, the world's biggest bond fund, said it continued to trade normally with Lehman Brothers, as rumours that it had pulled business away from the investment bank clobbered Lehman's shares.

Trading was moderate on the NYSE, where about 1.53 billion shares changed hands, below last year's estimated daily average of 1.90 billion, while on the Nasdaq, about 2.30 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 2.17 billion.

The US dollar traded at $1.5779 per euro at 6:17am in Tokyo, after falling 0.3% yesterday and touching $1.5801, the weakest since July 3. The dollar was at 107.07 yen, following a 0.3% gain. The euro traded at 169 yen, after increasing 0.6%.

The pound fell 0.3% to $1.9779 yesterday after the central bank kept its main interest rate at 5%, trying to balance the threat of Britain's first recession in a generation with the risk of accelerating inflation. Against the euro, sterling dropped 0.5% to 79.77 pence.

The Dollar Index traded on ICE futures in New York, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six US trading partners, fell yesterday as much as 0.2% to 72.412, the lowest level since July 2.

Aluminum jumped to a record high on Thursday on output cuts in top producer China, while lead surged more than 12% as the market fretted over lower inventories.

Aluminum for delivery in three months hit an all-time high of $3,380 per ton, up 6% from Wednesday, after China's top 20 smelters said they would cut output by 5-10% from July to reduce power consumption.

The energy-intensive metal, used in transport and packaging, closed at $3,290 per ton London Metal Exchange, up $100 from Wednesday.

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