Wall Street advances after IBM earnings forecast lifts hopes

After falling nearly 250 points on Friday, the Dow rose more than 100 points Monday.

SHARES TEL AVIV Stocks rose for a second day, led by Makhteshim Agan Industries Ltd., the world's largest maker of generic agrochemicals, and Africa Israel Investments Ltd. The Tel Aviv-25 Index added 6.19, or 0.5 percent, to 1,170.54 as 14 members gained, 10 fell and one was unchanged. Investors traded about NIS 2.32 billion in shares and convertible securities. Makhteshim Agan, advanced NIS 1.42, or 4.6%, to NIS 32.50. Africa Israel, the holding company controlled by billionaire Lev Leviev, climbed NIS 12.20, or 4%, to NIS 316.20. Bank Hapoalim Ltd. dropped NIS 0.44, or 2.4%, to NIS 17.66. Delek Group Ltd. rose NIS 29.40, or 4%, to NIS 762.40. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. dropped NIS 2.50, or 1.4%, to NIS 177.80. WALL STREET Wall Street advanced sharply Monday, with solid preliminary results from IBM encouraging investors to go back into the stock market after last week's rout. International Business Machines Corp., one of the 30 Dow Jones industrials, released preliminary earnings estimates for the fourth quarter that were 24% above year-earlier levels. The results also beat the forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. After falling nearly 250 points on Friday, the Dow rose more than 100 points Monday. In midday trading, the Dow gained 96.25, or 0.76%, to 12,702.55. IBM was the biggest gainer in the Dow, rising $5.65, or 5.8%, to $103.32. Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index added 6.84, or 0.49%, to 1,407.86 and the Nasdaq composite index shot up 19.74, or 0.81%, to 2,459.68. EUROPE European stocks rose for the first time in four days, led by technology companies, after sales for SAP AG and International Business Machines Corp. topped analysts' estimates. SAP, the biggest maker of business-management software, Cap Gemini SA, the region's largest computer-services company, and chipmaker Infineon Technologies AG led the Dow Jones Europe Stoxx Technology Index to its steepest gain in three weeks. The Stoxx 600 advanced 0.3% to 344.78. The index slumped 5.8% this year as of January 11, the worst start to a year since at least 1987, on concern an economic slowdown and credit-market losses in the US will crimp profit. National benchmarks rose in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 13.7, or 0.2%, to 6,215.70. France's CAC 40 climbed 0.6% and Germany's DAX advanced 0.2%. The Stoxx 50 was unchanged, while the Euro Stoxx 50, a measure for the euro region, climbed 0.3%. ASIA Asian stocks fell to a three-week low, led by shipbuilders and oil producers, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecasts for regional growth. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world's biggest shipyard, posted its biggest decline in five months on concern new orders will slump. PetroChina Co. and PTT Pcl dropped on speculation slowing global growth will trim demand for oil. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index excluding Japan Index dropped 0.5% to 509.24 at 4:30 p.m. in Hong Kong, set for its lowest close since December 20. About two stocks fell for each that rose. Benchmarks retreated across the region apart from Taiwan, China, and Pakistan, while Australia was little changed. Japan was closed for a holiday. CURRENCIES The shekel strengthened for a fifth day against the dollar, to 3.7150, the highest in nine and a half years. It was the best performer among 11 emerging-market currencies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the past month. The dollar fell to within a cent of its all-time low versus the euro on speculation US interest rates will drop below those of the 15 nations that share the single European currency for the first time in three years. The US currency extended three weeks of declines as Federal Reserve officials signaled last week they favor greater "insurance" against an economic slowdown amid the slump in the housing market. The dollar fell to as low as $1.4915 against the euro, the weakest since declining to a record low of $1.4967 on November 23, and traded at $1.4877 as of 1:08 p.m. in New York, from $1.4776 on January 11. It depreciated the most against the yen since January 2, to 108.11 from 108.84. COMMODITIES Crude oil rose for the first time in four days after the dollar fell to within a cent of its all-time low against the euro, prompting investors to buy energy and metals futures as an inflation hedge. Prices also increased on expectations that fuel consumption will surge this week as colder weather moves across the US. Crude oil for February delivery rose $1.18, or 1.3%, to $93.87 a barrel at 12:09 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures reached a record $100.09 a barrel on January 3. Brent crude for February settlement rose 90 cents, or 1%, to $91.97 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. Futures touched $98.50 on January 3, the highest intraday price since trading began in 1988. A lower dollar makes oil cheaper in countries using other currencies. Gold and platinum rose to records and crops such as cotton and corn surged as a declining dollar increased demand for precious metals and farm products as alternatives to stocks and bonds. Gold has gained 8.5% this year. Gold futures for February delivery rose $6.20, or 0.7%, to $903.90 an ounce at 1:11 p.m. on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price earlier reached $915.90, the highest ever for a most-active contract. The metal for immediate delivery rose $8.56, or 1%, to $903.96. It earlier reached $914.30.