Midday Market Update: "Closer to the End" for the Credit Crisis

By Jennifer Yousfi
Managing Editor 

U.S. markets gained after two days in the red on gains in the tech sector and a positive sales report from the nation's largest retailer.

At midday in New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index was up 92.42 points (0.74%), to trade at 12,619.68. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index gained 34.57 points (1.49%), to reach 2,356.69. And the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index increased 9.73 points (0.72%), to hit 1,364.22.

The technology sector (up 1.23%) and the transportation sector (up 0.92%) posted the biggest gains, while the utilities sector (down 0.24%) and the basic materials sector (down 0.12%) posted the only declines.

"Bigger picture, we're still in a trading range for the most part. Folks are still trying to figure out which direction we're headed, and investors are waiting for more earnings reports to see where the economy stands and where the sectors are headed," Robert Pavlik, chief investment officer at Oaktree Asset Management told MarketWatch.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) gained after bargain hunters helped the retail giant beat sales estimates, and an upgrade by Bank of America Corp. (BAC) gave Intel Corp. (INTC) stock a boost.

Financial shares, such as Citigroup Inc. (C) and Wachovia Corp. (WB), rallied after Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said "we're closer to the end than the beginning" of the credit crisis, Bloomberg News reported.

In overseas markets early today, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index lost 166.59 points to close at 12,945.30. Hong Kong's blue-chip Hang Seng Index had a 202.53-point gain, to close at 24,187.10.

European bourses were down, with the Paris-based CAC40, London's FTSE 100, Madrid's IBEX 35 and the Frankfurt-based DAX all posting losses.

At midday, the dollar had gained ground against the euro (up0.165%), but lost ground against the yen (down 0.552%) and the pound sterling (down 0.253%).

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