Markets Wipe Out Last Week's Losses

The major U.S. indices ended higher today but will the high last?

August 15, 2011, 2:37 PM

Aug. 15, 2011 — -- The three major stock market indices in the United States today recouped losses fromlast week's volatility, but investors are waiting to see if gains will continue during the week.

Stocks gained after relatively weak economic data in the past week and Standard & Poor's U.S. debt downgrade more than a week ago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,482.90, up 213.88 points, or nearly 2 percent for the day.

The Dow was up 762.96 points, or 7.12 percent, in the three-day session. That is its largest three-day point gain since Nov. 25, 2008.

The S&P 500 was 1,204.49, up 2.18 percent, while the Nasdaq was 2,555.20, up 1.88 percent.

U.S. markets might have also reacted to the morning's news that Google will acquire Motorola Mobility. That large companies are confident enough to make such deals likely emboldened investors.

Good news for the markets came also came from Asia. Data indicated the Japanese economy is performing somewhat better than expected after the devastating earthquake earlier this year.

Calvin Sullivan, managing director with investment bank Morgan Keegan, said today's trading reflected investors' increasing willingness for risk in the stock market as they retreated slightly from Treasuries.

"I think investors just had a chance to reflect on the past week and prior week, that reality doesn't warrant quite as pessimistic of an outlook on the economy," Sullivan said.

Mixed economic data might have led to last week's roller-coaster ride in trading. The U.S. government reported Aug 5. there were 117,000 jobs added in July, lowering the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent. Then on late Friday evening, Standard & Poor's announced it had downgraded U.S. sovereign debt.

Hugh Johnson, chairman of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC, said that economic data on industrial production and housing out later this week, will indicate whether the markets can sustain today's performance.

Johnson added that the European debt crisis continues to be an issue, and "from time to time the markets will worry if there is another assault on the bonds of European countries."

Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist for and author of Follow the Fed to Investment Success, said today's gains were driven in part by investors' hopes that the Federal Reserve might intervene with additional stimulus.

"After the credit downgrade drop, we saw a rally into Treasuries and the Fed's statement with hope for the future," Roberts said.

The Federal Reserve released a statement Aug. 9 that it will keep the federal funds rate low, possibly at 0 to 1/4 percent, at least through mid-2013.

"Initially, there was some question whether Bernanke's statement was dovish or hawkish. But people are hearing dovish and hope it will lead to some form of QE3," Roberts said, referring to the Federal Reserve's QE1 and QE2 "quantitative easing" monetary stimulus.

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