Finance Finance News Oil price free-fall levels out

Oil price free-fall levels out

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Wall Street stocks have soared for a second day running as oil prices steadied and investors became more confident of monetary stimulus in Europe.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 323.35 points (1.84 per cent) to 17,907.87 on Thursday.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 36.24 (1.79 per cent) to 2,062.14, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 85.72 (1.84 per cent) at 4,736.19.

US oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 per cent since June, rose slightly for a second day in a row. Investors have been worried crashing crude prices could be a sign of weakening growth.

European stocks soared on optimism the European Central Bank will take new stimulus measures soon.

“There is some pretty clear evidence” the ECB will soon act, said Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors.

“There’s nothing exactly new today, but the situation has changed since a month ago, when it seemed there were too many bureaucratic objections.”

Investors are gearing up for Friday’s US jobs report for December, which analysts expect will show the economy added 245,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked down to 5.7 per cent.

Apple, the biggest US company by market capitalisation, jumped 3.8 per cent as it announced that its App Store made new records in 2014 and in early 2015, with consumers spending nearly half a billion dollars on apps in the first week of January.

Other tech stocks that rose significantly included Dow member Microsoft (+2.9 per cent), Facebook (+2.7 per cent) and chipmaker Micron Technology (+4.9 per cent).

Oil-linked equities rallied. Dow member ExxonMobil advanced 1.7 per cent, while Apache rose 3.9 per cent and oil-services company Weatherford International added 2.76 per cent.

General Motors gained 1.0 per cent as the carmaker’s chief executive, Mary Barra, gave a strong outlook for US car sales, projecting industry-wide sales of 16.5-17.0 million units in 2015. The last time the 17 million mark was reached was in 2001.

Ford Motor tacked on 2.5 per cent as it raised its quarterly dividend by 20 per cent.

Yahoo gained 3.4 per cent after activist shareholder Starboard Value released a letter warning chief executive Marissa Mayer against making large acquisitions and saying it could seek a leadership change at the technology company if she undertakes the wrong strategy.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.01 per cent from 1.97 per cent Wednesday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.59 per cent from 2.53 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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