U.S. Stock Indexes Climb, Steadying After A Big Sell-Off

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks made slight gains on Monday as the market steadied after a big sell-off on Friday. Stocks slumped last week when a strong jobs report boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates this summer. General Motors rose after announcing a $5 billion stock buyback to appease an activist investor.


KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,075 as of 12:08 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 108 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,966 points. The Nasdaq composite was flat at 4,926.

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BUYBACK DEAL: General Motors announced that it would buy back $5 billion of its own stock by the end of the year. The move is part of a deal with Harry Wilson, an activist investor and a former member of the government task force that restructured GM coming out of its 2009 bankruptcy. In exchange, Wilson agreed to withdraw his hostile candidacy for the Detroit automaker's board of directors. GM's stock rose 97 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $37.52.


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SIX YEARS ON: A bull market for stocks reached its sixth anniversary on Monday. On this day in 2009, the S&P 500 bottomed out at 676.53 after slumping nearly 60 percent in 18 months in the wake of the housing market collapse and the Great Recession. Since then the index has tripled thanks to a recovering economy and record company earnings.


PROPERTY BID: Macerich, a real estate investment trust that specializes in retail properties, climbed $5.06, or 5.8 percent, to $91.80 after Simon Property made a hostile bid of $16 billion in cash and stock for the company.

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APPLE WATCH: Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil the company's smartwatch and make the case for why it's a must-have gadget at a San Francisco event later Monday. Apple teased the smartwatch in September but has given few details. Apple's stock rose 98 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $127.60.


FED THINKING: Stocks slumped on Friday after a Labor Department report showed that the U.S. added 295,000 jobs in February. That ratcheted up expectations that Federal Reserve policy makers will raise interest rates as soon as June. The Fed has held interest rates close to zero for more than six years to stimulate growth following the financial crisis and Great Recession.


THE QUOTE: Despite a bumpy ride early this year in the markets, investors should still take advantage of any sell-offs to add to their positions, said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

         "Overall, you're still going to get out of this year with good, but not great returns," Wren said. Wren forecasts that overseas growth will pick up, helping to underpin a steady recovery in the U.S.


ECB STARTS QE: The European Central Bank started its 60 billion euro ($65 billion) per month bond-buying program on Monday. The bank hopes the purchases will stimulate the eurozone economy and get inflation back to the bank's target of just below 2 percent. At present, consumer prices in the 19-country currency bloc are falling at an annual rate of 0.3 percent.


EUROPE'S DAY: France's CAC-40 fell 0.6 percent while Germany's DAX edged up 3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.5 percent.


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 63 cents to $50.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 41 cents to $59.33 per barrel in London.


BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.21 percent from 2.25 percent on Friday.

         The divergence between the Fed and the ECB's monetary policies has pushed the euro lower against the dollar. After falling to its lowest in 12 years against the dollar on Friday, the euro steadied on Monday, trading at $1.0846. The dollar was flat against the Japanese currency at 120.86 yen.

         – by AP Reporter Steve Rothwell



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