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While you were sleeping: Businesswire overnight wrap

Wednesday 9th July 2008

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Oil fell for a second day and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke signalled his willingness to extend help to financial firms beyond the end of calendar 2008, setting the stage for a rally on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 152.25 points, or 1.36%, at 11,384.21, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 21.39 points, or 1.71%, to 1,273.70.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 51.10 points, or 2.28%, at 2,294.42, snapping a three-day losing streak.

Bank of America led financial shares to their best gain in more than three months, after JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon said buyers were returning to some types of mortgage products.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rebounded from their lowest levels in more than 13 years after a regulator said the mortgage-finance companies shouldn't have to need to raise more capital. Shares in Apple Inc gained ahead of the Friday global launch of its new iPhone.

Transportation stocks and companies such as GE and UPS recouped some recent losses as oil slid for a second day.

US light crude settled at $136.04 a barrel, down $5.33, after dropping as low as $135.14 a barrel, the lowest since June 26. London Brent crude settled at $136.43 a barrel, down $5.44.

After the bell, aluminum producer Alcoa reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit, and its shares advanced. Both earnings per share and sales exceeded analysts' forecasts.

In a speech to a financial conference in Arlington, Virginia, Bernanke said the US central bank might extend emergency lending facilities for big Wall Street banks past year-end as it sought to restore financial market stability.

It's the first time Bernanke has indicated how long he'll extend the lending programs that were introduced in March in a provision of Fed credit to non-banks unprecedented since the Great Depression.

Bernanke also endorsed proposals to set up a federal liquidation process for a failing investment bank. The Treasury should take a leading role in any such process in consultation with regulators, he said.

The US currency rose 0.5% to $1.5656 per euro at 4:08pm in New York, from $1.5726 yesterday. The yen climbed 0.1% to 168.32 per euro, from 168.55. Japan's currency dropped 0.3% to 107.51 per dollar, from 107.18.

In Europe, fresh concern about the outlook for the banking sector drove shares down. The Stoxx 600 dropped 1.5% to 278.97, extending its 2008 decline to 23%. The UK's FTSE 100 Index averted a bear market at the close after earlier extending its retreat from last year's high to 20%.

Aluminum fell by 5.7% on Tuesday, retreating from the previous session's record high as large stocks offset worries about power problems in China and softer oil prices dampened sentiment.

Aluminum for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange hit an intraday low at $3,120 per ton before closing at $3,145, down by 5% or $165. On Monday, it rallied 5% to a record high of $3,327 per ton.

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