March 18, 2009

U.S. markets gain Wednesday

U.S. stock indexes rose Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the bank would purchase U.S. Treasuries and increase its investment in housing.

The Fed left lending rates unchanged at zero to 0.25 percent, but said it would buy $300 billion worth of U.S. Treasuries in the next six months and increase its purchases of mortgage-backed security assets by $750 billion.

The announcement turned markets around from a loss of more than 50 points. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 90.88 points, or 1.23 percent, to 7,486.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 2.09 percent, 16.23 points, to 794.35. The Nasdaq composite index gained 29.11 points, 1.99 percent, to 1,491.22.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond jumped on the news, rising 4 20/32 to yield 2.478 percent.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,494 stocks advanced and 590 declined on a volume of 6.6 billion shares traded.

The euro rose to $1.3472, compared to Tuesday's $1.3014. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar fell to 96.31 yen, compared to Tuesday's 98.54 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei average gained 23.04 points to 7,972.17, up 0.29 percent.

In London, the FTSE 100 index dropped 1.35 percent, 52.11 points, to 3,804.99.