US stocks make gains on hope of stimulus packageFebruary 7th, 2009 - 8:23 am ICT by IANS
New York, Feb 7 (DPA) Wall Street stocks rose sharply Friday amid hopes that an economic stimulus package topping $800 billion would soon be passed by the Senate, overshadowing the worst monthly jobs report in 35 years.US senators were caught in a furious debate on the merits of the economic recovery plan. Democratic leaders held out hope that a compromise could be worked out by Friday night, as President Barack Obama warned that delay was “inexcusable and irresponsible”.
The Labour Department Friday reported that 598,000 jobs were lost in January, the worst monthly decline since 1974, and driving the unemployment rate up to 7.6 percent.
About 3.6 million jobs have been lost since the US recession began in December 2007, the sharpest 13-month drop in the post-war period.
The latest unemployment numbers added urgency to the Senate’s debate on the stimulus package, which if passed would be the largest in US history.
Financial shares were led higher by Bank of America Corp, after chief executive Kenneth Lewis told US business broadcaster CNBC that the bank’s nationalisation was a “remote possibility”. The troubled bank was handed 138 billion dollars by the US Treasury last month to keep it afloat.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will unveil a series of new proposals Monday to help stabilise the financial industry - the first comprehensive plan to be offered by the incoming Obama administration.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 217.52 points, or 2.7 percent, to 8,280.59. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 22.75 points, or 2.69 percent, to 868.6. The technology- heavy Nasdaq Composite Index rose 45.47 points, or 2.94 percent, to 1,591.71.
The US currency fell against the euro to 77.28 euro cents from 78.15 euro cents Thursday. The dollar climbed against the Japanese currency to 92 yen from 91.28 yen.