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Dow Rises To Highest Level Since 2008 on Greek Talks

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 04:14 PM

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average above its highest closing level since May 2008, as Greece made progress on measures to secure aid.

Seven out of 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained, helping the gauge rebound from earlier losses. Coca-Cola Co., the largest soft-drink maker, added 1.3 percent as earnings beat estimates. Yum! Brands Inc., owner of the KFC and Taco Bell fast-food chains, climbed 2.7 percent as profit surged 30 percent. Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, slid 1.5 percent as Citigroup Inc. cut its recommendation.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,345.97 at 12:10 p.m. New York time, wiping out a decline of as much as 0.6 percent. The Dow advanced 27.28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 12,872.41.

“We need to see some real austerity from Greece,‘‘ Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust Co. in Radnor, Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview. His firm manages about $6.5 billion. ‘‘When we see that, we will have more confidence that Europe is serious about growth. I have confidence that we’ll get some sort of resolution that allows for additional funding.’’

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will issue a statement tonight at the conclusion of a meeting with the three leaders of political parties on measures and policies Greece has agreed in return for a second financing package, a spokeswoman at the premier’s office in Athens said. The spokeswoman said the Cabinet would meet tomorrow at around midday to approve the accord and that a meeting of euro area finance ministers was likely to be held Feb. 9 on the bailout agreement.

German Stance

The German government opposes adding to the 130 billion- euro second bailout for Greece, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers in Berlin today, according to two participants in the meeting.

Equities fell yesterday, following a five-week advance for the S&P 500, amid concern about Europe’s debt crisis as Greek leaders wrestled with spending cuts to get aid and avert a default. The benchmark gauge was still up 6.9 percent in 2012 through yesterday amid better-than-estimated economic data and corporate profits. Earnings beat projections at 68 percent of the 280 companies in the S&P 500 that reported quarterly results since Jan. 9, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘‘Greece is on the front page again,’’ Paul Zemsky, the New York-based head of asset allocation for ING Investment Management, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $160 billion. ‘‘It’s been the theme for at least a year that you had to take these governments near the edge of the abyss and look into it before they would agree to additional cuts or fiscal tightening or other types of concessions to get money.’’

Juice Drink

Coca-Cola added 1.3 percent to $68.89. Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent is expanding sales of beverages in Asia with global marketing campaigns and products such as its Minute Maid Pulpy juice drink. Fourth-quarter sales volume climbed 5 percent in Japan and 10 percent in China.

Yum rallied 2.7 percent to $64.90. The company, with about 18,800 restaurants outside the U.S., said fourth-quarter sales at stores open at least 12 months grew 21 percent in China. Yum said it opened a record 656 stores last year in the Asian nation, where it gets more than 40 percent of its revenue.

Walgreen erased 1.5 percent to $33.76 after being cut to ‘‘sell’’ from ‘‘neutral’’ at Citigroup.

Becton Dickinson slid 3.4 percent to $77.81. The company cut its forecast for 2012 to no more than $5.70 a share, below an earlier projection of as much as $5.85 and the average analyst estimate of $5.80.

A retreat in U.S. stocks will set the stage for the S&P 500 to approach 1,370, the level where the current bull market ran out of steam last year, according to analysts who study charts to predict market moves.

Running Out

The benchmark index for U.S. equities slipped less than 0.1 percent to 1,344.33 yesterday on concern over Europe’s debt crisis as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said time was running out for Greece to accept conditions for a bailout. The S&P 500 had gained for five weeks, the longest streak in a year, sending its 14-day relative strength index, which measures the degree that gains and losses outpace each other, to the highest level since February 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘‘We need to pause, rest, consolidate in order to stay healthy,’’ Carter Worth, New York-based chief market technician at Oppenheimer & Co., wrote in a note yesterday. ‘‘Any such consolidation would cure the market from a tad unhealthy right back to very healthy, and would be the perfect ‘setup’ for a breakout-type move to new 52-week highs.’’


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Tuesday, 07 February 2012 04:14 PM
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