Thursday 24th July 2008
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Oil prices fell more than $4 after government data showed a big increase in US inventories of gasoline, boosting companies sensitive to higher fuel costs, such as retailers and airlines.
The S&P 500 added 5.19 points, or 0.4%, to 1,282.19, a three-week high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 29.88, or 0.3%, to 11,632.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 21.92, or 1%, to 2,325.88. Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
President George Bush dropped a threat to veto a housing rescue bill, clearing the way for measures aimed at stabilising the battered housing market, which has been the source of huge losses for financial companies.
Removal of the presidential veto threat spurred investors to snap up shares of Fannie and Freddie, the top two US housing finance companies, which would receive an emergency government lifeline under the bill.
AT&T had the biggest gain since March, climbing 3.9% to $33.06. The largest US telephone carrier increased profit by 30% as customers bought more email phones such as Research In Motion Ltd's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone.
The S&P 500 Telecommunication Services Index rose 3.4%, the most since Jan. 29, as all nine companies in the group advanced. Sprint Nextel Corp, the third-largest US wireless carrier, added 1.1% to $8.51.
Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, climbed 3.9% to $19.07 after reporting per-share profit 2.2% higher than analysts estimated in a Bloomberg survey.
After the market closed, Amazon.com Inc reported that its quarterly net income doubled from a year ago and beat Wall Street targets, though much of the gain was related to the sale of European DVD rental assets, confusing some investors.
The US dollar also got a boost from the news on the housing rescue bill, trading at 107.97 yen at 6:13am in Tokyo, after rising 0.5% yesterday, when it reached 107.97, the highest since June 26. The US currency was at $1.5687 per euro, after rising 0.5% yesterday and touching $1.5670, the strongest since July 9. The yen traded at 169.27 per euro after touching 169.96 euro, the weakest since the 15-nation currency's 1999 debut.
The Dollar Index on the ICE market, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six U.S. trading partners, touched 72.797 yesterday, the strongest since July 9.
The kiwi dropped to 74.41 US cents from 75.16 US cents late in Asian trading yesterday. New Zealand's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to 8%, saying slowing economic growth will curb inflation pressures.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note's price was down 9/32 at 97-28/32. Its yield, which moves inversely to its price, traded at 4.14%, up from 4.10% late on Tuesday. It reached a session high of 4.16% - the highest since June 25.
In economic news, the Fed's "Beige Book" of regional economic conditions showed rising price pressures across the United States even though the pace of growth slowed somewhat.
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