Stocks Surge as Credit Crunch Eases

Calmer trading as fear subsides

Wall Street had another big advance Monday, as investors grew more confident in response to an improving credit market and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dow closed up 413 points, at 9,265, and all of the major indexes were up at least 3 percent.

Lending rates between banks are gradually easing, and there's less demand for the safest Treasury bills. And Bernanke has hinted that the government will take more steps to help the economy.

Investors who had sold furiously in recent weeks in response to immobile credit markets became more optimistic as bank-to-bank lending rates eased further.

Trading was quite orderly, far from the frenetic activity seen during the previous two weeks, when investors' heightened anxiety about credit markets and the economy sent stocks plunging or soaring and the Dow moving by hundreds of points a day.

The relative calm in Friday's session, when the Dow fell 127, and Monday's trading, had more investors feeling confident that the worst of the market's volatility was behind it.

Still, with back-and-forth trading a hallmark during recoveries from plunges in the past, investors were also expecting that Wall Street would be subject to price swings for some time.

The credit markets were gradually responding to the series of bailout measures by governments around the world, including a joint U.S. and European plan to buy stakes in private banks to boost their lending. Demand for Treasury bills, regarded as the safest assets around, lessened somewhat Monday, but remained relatively high in a sign that there was still much fear in the markets.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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