Global stocks surged on signs that U.S. unemployment may fall and reports that Europe’s central bank is closer to containing the region’s financial crisis. Bond prices and the dollar fell as investors moved money into riskier assets.
European stocks got a boost after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet suggested that the bank could buy bonds issued by countries within the European Union. That, along with a better-than-expected bond auction by Portugal, pushed the euro higher. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks blue chip companies in Europe, rose 2 percent.
U.S. stock indexes leaped higher, erasing nearly two weeks of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 250 points in afternoon trading.
All 30 stocks in the Dow index rose. Home Depot Inc. rose 4.4 percent, Microsoft Corp. rose 3.7 percent and Caterpillar Inc. rose 3.5 percent.
All 10 industry groups that make up the Standard and Poor’s 500 index rose, led by energy, industrial and technology companies.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 258.50, or 2.4 percent, to 11,264.52 in afternoon trading. The last time the Dow closed with a gain of more than 250 points was Sept. 1.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 25.55, or 2.2 percent, to 1,206.10. The Nasdaq composite rose 55.94, or 2.2 percent, to 2,554.17.
Signs that the U.S. job market thawed in November jumpstarted the gains. ADP Employer Services, a payroll company, said small businesses added the largest amount of workers in three years last month, well ahead of what analysts had forecast.
“The U.S. economy is all about jobs and anything that leads folks to believe that there’s a better job market will be good for equities,” said Paul Zemsky, the head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management.
Greg Walker, a global investment strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, said the ADP report gave traders confidence that the overall U.S. employment rate will fall. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the November unemployment rate on Friday morning.
Bond prices fell sharply, pushing their yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond rose to 2.95 percent from 2.80 percent late Tuesday. That yield is a widely used benchmark for loans including mortgages.
In other economic news, the Institute of Supply Management said its index of manufacturing activity rose in November for the 16th month.
Stocks rose in Asia on signals that the Chinese economy is growing. A Chinese state index of manufacturing activity indicated that the country’s economy expanded for the 21st straight month. A competing Chinese survey by HSBC rose to an eight-month high.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.1 percent. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1 percent. Stocks have fallen in Asia since early November after China raised a key interest rate to combat inflation.
The Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy improved in 10 of the Fed’s 12 regions. Only the Philadelphia and St. Louis regions reported mixed economic conditions.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)