Wall Street had its second straight big rally today as tumbling energy prices and stronger-than-expected earnings reports gave investors...
NEW YORK — Wall Street had its second straight big rally today as tumbling energy prices and stronger-than-expected earnings reports gave investors a burst of optimism about the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 207.38, or 1.9 percent, to 11,446.66. The Dow on Wednesday surged 276 points, or 2.5 percent, logging its best daily gain in three months.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, rose 26 cents to close at $27.52 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained $1.34 to $66.92.
Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index advanced 14.96, or 1.2 percent, to 1,260.32, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 27.45, or 1.2 percent, to 2,312.30.
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Crude oil prices fell more than $5, bringing their three-day slide to more than $15 a barrel. Meanwhile, banker JPMorgan Chase and manufacturer United Technologies have issued earnings that topped expectations and issued comments that generally indicated that their businesses are holding up despite sometimes difficult economic conditions.
The reports let investors put aside some of their worst fears about the economy. Still, Wall Street has had some up periods in the past few months as optimism grew — only to fall back into a downturn as worries about the financial sector and the economy welled back up.
“There were some better-than-expected numbers out of the banks. I think we’re maybe getting a little bit of a sigh of relief rally. Things had gotten so scary there for a few days,” said Denis Amato, chief investment officer at Ancora Advisors in Cleveland.
Natural-gas prices also fell sharply after the Energy Department said domestic stockpiles rose last week, but remain below recent years’ levels. Prices dropped 71.3 cents to $10.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.
A sustained drop in energy costs — particularly oil — would be welcome news for nearly all parts of the economy. Consumers have been hard-pressed by higher fuel and food costs. Wall Street is worried they will pare their spending on discretionary items to make room in their budgets for the higher-priced necessities. A pullback could be troublesome as consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
Advancing issues outpaced decliners by more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.29 billion shares.
Stocks soared Wednesday after better-than-expected quarterly results from Wells Fargo helped ease some of investors’ worries about the health of the banking sector. Wall Street has grown concerned that souring mortgage debt would force some banks to go under.
Wall Street also appeared placated by economic figures. A Commerce Department report showed construction of homes and apartments rose in June by 9.1 percent. The gain follows a change in New York laws that has given a boost to apartment building. Construction of single-family homes fell by 5.3 percent to the slowest pace in 17 years. Applications for building permits, one indicator of future activity, rose by 11.6 percent.
The Labor Department reported that the number of newly laid-off people seeking unemployment benefits rose by 18,000 last week to 366,000. However, the increase was below the number economists expected.
Investors appeared undeterred by a reading from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showing another decrease in regional manufacturing.
JPMorgan Chase posted a 53 percent decline in its second-quarter earnings as mortgage and other loan defaults worsened, but the decline in profits wasn’t as steep as Wall Street had feared and the stock rose $4.86, or 13.5 percent, to $40.80.
Among other financials gaining, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac jumped after Fitch Ratings affirmed long-term issuer default ratings on the government-chartered mortgage giants. Fitch cut Fannie’s preferred stock rating and put Freddie’s on watch for a possible downgrade. Fannie rose $1.68, or 18 percent, to $10.93, while Freddie rose $1.50, or 22 percent, to $8.33.