NEW YORK – Wall Street found a foothold Monday as investors, still anxious that a credit crunch could crimp U.S. growth, took advantage of low prices after last week’s steep losses. The Dow Jones industrial average surged more than 90 points.
Some solid earnings and takeover activity boosted the stock market, which was coming off the Dow’s and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s biggest weekly drops in nearly five years. The Dow is still down about 4.8 percent from its July 19 record close of 14,000.41, having caved under worries about a shakier lending climate.
In a sign that aversion to corporate debt hasn’t stanched deal-making, industrial equipment manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand said it’s selling its Bobcat earth-moving division and two other units to Korea’s Doosan Infracore for $4.9 billion.
And despite rising defaults and delinquencies in mortgage lending, HSBC Holdings PLC, Europe’s largest bank by market value, posted a 25 percent rise in first-half earnings.
Also, General Motors Corp.’s GMAC Financial Services said that second-quarter profit declined but that it expects its residential lending business to improve in the second half of the year.
The market initially wavered between positive and negative territory Monday, but then pushed higher in afternoon trading as investors re-entered the market to scoop up bargains.
“At this point, I’d call it a relief rally,” said Henry Herrmann, chief executive officer at investment management firm Waddell & Reed. He noted that stock investors will stay focused on the credit markets for a while, especially as they receive more word on hedge funds’ recent performance.
The Dow rose 92.84, or 0.70 percent, to 13,358.31, after falling by as much as 46 points during the session. On Thursday and Friday, the Dow plunged a total of 585 points.
Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 14.96, or 1.03 percent, to 1,473.91, and the Nasdaq composite index advanced 21.04, or 0.82 percent, to 2,583.28.
Bonds fell modestly as stocks gained, driving the 10-year Treasury note’s yield up to 4.81 percent from 4.77 percent late Friday. A week ago, the 10-year note’s yield was at 4.95 percent, but it has since sunk as investors sought safe assets during the stock market’s plunge.
Market watchers say that the market’s credit-related jitters are far from assuaged and that investors should expect high volatility to continue.
“The mythical investor vacillates between fear and greed,” said Kim Caughey, equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group. She said she regards last week’s plunge as an opportunity to buy, albeit selectively.
Morgan Stanley rose 24 cents to $64.61 after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services raised its rating on the investment bank, citing well-executed growth in the investment bank’s core businesses.
S&P also said structural improvements within Morgan Stanley leave it better positioned than its competitors to weather volatile market conditions that could continue amid concerns about subprime loans, those made to borrowers with poor credit.
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