(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
NEW YORK - Wall Street strung together a two-day winning streak on
Friday for the first time since mid-July, while European stock markets
rallied as a ban on short-selling financial shares threw the battered
sector a lifeline.
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Investors also took comfort from US retail
sales that rose in July for the biggest gain since March. That was
tempered somewhat by a separate report that showed consumer sentiment in
early August fell to the lowest since May 1980.
spending accounts for two-thirds of US economic activity, and the
retail sales data indicated the third quarter was off to a promising
Analysts said the sentiment report was disappointing, but
the drop was not too shocking, given recent political wrangling over the
US deficit and declines in the stock market.
Equities markets were relatively calm at the end of a whipsaw week
sparked by Standard & Poor's downgrading the US credit rating. Wall
Street remains on track for its worst three-week decline since March of
2009 when stocks hit 12-year lows.
US stocks were up about 1 percent, while European shares closed up 3.6
percent. Bank shares, which have fallen sharply in recent days, led the
move higher in Europe after the ban on short selling imposed by France,
Italy, Spain and Belgium.
"Markets have stabilized a little bit after the short-selling ban," said
Colin McLean, managing director at SVM Asset Management in Edinburgh.
"But banks have fallen pretty far and most are oversold and are just
bouncing off low levels."
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama met Friday with
chief executives from Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo & Co, US
Bank, Xerox Corp, BlackRock Inc, according to a source familiar with the
He also met with the CEO of Silver Lake Partners.
Obama talked about global financial turmoil, the state of the US economy, and job growth with the executives.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday that Obama was
constantly "on the hunt" for new job creation ideas.