US stocks rise, erasing declines

International Business Machines Corp.'s $15b. buyback plan overshadowed concern that inflation may accelerate even as the economy slows.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index rose to the highest in more than a month, adding 6.64, or 0.6 percent, to 1,122.73 at the close in Tel Aviv as 14 members gained and 11 declined. Investors traded about NIS 2.09 billion in shares and convertible securities. Housing & Construction Holdings Ltd. gained 2.3%, its biggest gain in nine days. Israel's largest construction company said it had agreed to sell its 50% stake in Lime & Stone Ltd. to its partner in the company, Readymix Israel Ltd., for $41 million. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. advanced for a seventh day, rising 1.7%. The world's largest maker of generic drugs' American depositary receipts will probably trade at $52 in the next 12 months, up from a previous estimate of $48, Bank Hapoalim Ltd. wrote in an e-mailed report. WALL STREET US stocks rose, capping the biggest three-day advance this year, after International Business Machines Corp.'s $15b. buyback plan overshadowed concern that inflation may accelerate even as the economy slows. IBM, the world's biggest computer-services company, climbed to a four-month high and helped benchmark indexes erase earlier declines. RadioShack Corp. and Macy's Inc. rallied on earnings that topped estimates, while Exxon Mobil Corp. led energy shares higher as oil prices gained for a third day. Google Inc. tumbled to the lowest since March, limiting the market's advance, after UBS AG slashed its earnings estimate. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 11.23 points, or 0.8%, to 1,383.03 at 1:55 p.m. in New York, rebounding from a decline of as much as 0.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 126.26, or 1%, to 12,696.48. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 27.13, or 1.2%, to 2,354.61. EUROPE European stocks rose for a second day after the biggest bond insurers kept their top debt ratings, increasing speculation that banks will avert another $70b. in credit losses. Standard Chartered Plc, the only UK bank trading higher than a year ago, rallied the most in six months as earnings beat analysts' estimates. Atos Origin SA led a gain among technology companies after IBM said it will buy back an additional $15b. of its stock and lifted its profit forecast. ThyssenKrupp AG jumped after Credit Suisse Group raised its share-price estimate for the steelmaker. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index added 1.4% to 330 after Standard & Poor's kept its AAA ratings on MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Group Inc. The Stoxx 50 climbed 1.6%, and the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, increased 1.5%. National stock indexes advanced in all 18 markets in western Europe except Iceland. Germany's DAX added 1.5%, while France's CAC 40 gained 1.1%. The UK's FTSE 100 Index climbed 1.5% to 6,087.4. ASIA Asian markets were mixed Tuesday, with Japanese stocks dropping as investors took profit following hefty gains the day before. China and Hong Kong stocks again moved in tandem as the Shanghai composite index and the Hang Seng both gained more than 1%. Indices in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan also posted gains. Stocks edged lower in Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand, and the main benchmark in South Korea finished flat. The Nikkei 225 Index fell 0.7%, to 13,824.7 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, after jumping more than 3% Monday to a month-and-a-half high as investors bought banks and insurers. CURRENCIES The shekel fell the most in two weeks against the dollar, dropping to 3.6233, from 3.5793 on Monday. It has gained almost 6% versus the US currency since December 1, making it the second-best performer after the Czech koruna among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The shekel climbed to a 10-year high of 3.5325 per dollar on February 12. The dollar approached a record low against the euro as US home prices tumbled and consumer confidence sank to a five-year low. Traders pushed the dollar to within a quarter-cent of its weakest level since the euro began trading in 1999 as producer prices rose more than forecast, fueling speculation the Federal Reserve will have less room to cut interest rates to bolster the economy. The euro began its climb earlier after German business confidence rose a second month. The dollar weakened to $1.4934 per euro at 1:44 p.m. in New York, from $1.4830 Monday, and reached the lowest level since February 1. It touched an all-time low of $1.4967 on November 23. The dollar fell to 107.30 yen from 108.07. The euro traded at 160.35 yen from 160.27, after reaching a six-week high. COMMODITIES Oil futures surged back above $100 a barrel Tuesday as traders took their cue from supply concerns and stock market bulls rather than signs that the US economy remains shaky. Crossing the psychologically significant hurdle once again - oil prices last topped $100 last week - may have helped fuel the rally by triggering automatic computer programs set to buy at certain levels and enticing fresh speculators into the market, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Illinois. Light, sweet crude for April delivery jumped $1.67 to $100.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures rose on speculation a weakening dollar and the surging cost of raw materials will boost demand for the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Silver jumped more than 3%. Gold futures for April delivery climbed $9.20, or 1%, to $949.70 an ounce at 1:25 p.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price fell as much as 1.2%. The most-active contract reached a record $958.40 on February 21. Silver futures for March delivery jumped 62.5 cents, or 3.5%, to $18.71 an ounce. The price earlier reached $18.74, the highest since December 1980. Before Tuesday, silver gained 21% this year, while gold climbed 12%.