Wall Street turns higher as bargain hunters jump in

The shekel rose the most in almost a year against the dollar.

SHARES TEL AVIV The Tel Aviv-25 Index fell for a third day, led by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world's biggest maker of generic drugs. The TA-25 Index declined 36.61, or 3.3 percent, to 1,065.35 in Tel Aviv, the lowest since September 17, as all 25 stocks fell. The index has retreated 14% since its record high on October 31. Teva dropped NIS 8.80, or 5%, to NIS 166. The stock lost 4.7% in New York trading on Tuesday, its biggest decline in almost 11 months. Cellcom Israel Ltd., the country's biggest cellphone company, fell NIS 5.50, or 4.8%, to NIS 108.50. Partner Communications Ltd., the country's second biggest mobile-phone operator, dropped NIS 2.99, or 3.8%, to NIS 75. VeriFone Holdings Inc., the world's biggest maker of electronic-payment equipment, fell NIS 4.47, or 7%, to NIS 59.74. WALL STREET Wall Street bounced around in extremely volatile trading Wednesday, as bargain hunters entered the market and lifted stocks up from their steep losses. The Dow Jones industrials fell more than 320 points, then made it all the way to positive territory. The Dow rose 298.98, or 2.5%, to 12,270.17. Broader stock indicators were down, but well off their lows of the day. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.88, or 0.14%, to 1,308.62, and the Nasdaq Composite Index slid 23.72, or 1.03%, to 2,268.55. EUROPE The reprieve for European stocks proved short-lived as concerns about subprime losses in the banking sector and the prospect of no immediate interest cut from the European Central Bank heaped pressure on markets Wednesday. The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slumped 3% to 306.04. The index snapped a five-day losing streak Tuesday, and clawed back some of Monday's massive 5.7% plunge after the US Federal Reserve cut rates. The UK's FTSE 100 Index fell 2.3% to 5,609.30, while France's CAC-40 Index dropped 4.3% to 4,636.76. Germany's DAX Index lost 4.9% to 6,439.21. European markets initially moved higher Wednesday, taking heart from the Fed's decision Tuesday to cut its key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, its first emergency move since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Despite the Fed move soothing some frazzled nerves, many investors still have long-term doubts about the health of the world's biggest economy. Markets may have taken their cue from a statement from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet that suggested he was sticking with his anti-inflation stance - and would not follow the Fed in cutting rates. Lower rates boost stocks. ASIA Asian shares rose in a volatile market mix as investors digested the US Federal Reserve's surprise interest-rate cut aimed at shoring up the sagging American economy. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index surged 10.7% - its biggest gain 10 years - to 24,090.17, regaining much of the 13.7% it had shed over the previous two days. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 2% to close at 12,829.06 after tumbling 9.3%the previous two days, while India's Sensex climbed 5.2%, recapturing nearly half its 12% losses from Monday and Tuesday. In Shanghai, China's benchmark index, which sank 12% earlier this week, bounced back 3.1%, and Australia's market rebounded 4.4%, snapping a 12-day losing streak. CURRENCIES The shekel rose the most in almost a year against the dollar on speculation above-target inflation will prevent the Bank of Israel from following Tuesday's emergency interest-rate cut by the US Federal Reserve. The shekel climbed to the highest level in 10 years after the Fed lowered the target rate for overnight loans between banks by 75 basis points to 3.5%. The Bank of Israel has lifted its main rate a half-point since June to keep inflation below a 3% limit. Prices in the $123 billion economy grew 3.4% in 2007. The shekel rose as much as 3.2%, the most since February 5, 2007, and traded at 3.7352 per dollar by 4:17 p.m. in Tel Aviv, from 3.7904 Tuesday. It climbed to as high as 3.6707, its strongest since August 1998. The euro lost ground against the dollar on Wednesday after gaining strongly Tuesday. The 15-nation euro bought $1.4552 in late European trading, down from $1.4612 in New York late Tuesday. The British pound sank to $1.9507 from $1.9625. The dollar was down against the Japanese currency, however, falling to 105.64 yen from 106.48 yen. COMMODITIES Crude oil fell, closing at a three-month low, on concern that the US Federal Reserve's interest-rate cut will fail to prevent the biggest energy-consuming country from entering a recession. Fuel demand may drop if the economic slowdown leads to job losses and factory closures. The US consumes about a quarter of global oil output. Crude oil for March delivery fell $2.19, or 2.5%, to $86.83 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Intraday futures touched $86.11 Tuesday, the lowest since December 6. Prices are up 58% from a year ago. Oil rose to a record $100.09 a barrel on January 3. Gold fell on speculation a global economic slowdown will reduce investment demand for the precious metal. Silver also declined. The metal has gained 4.9 percent this month. Gold futures for February delivery dropped $7.20, or 0.8%, to $883.10 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price reached $916.10 on January 15, the highest ever for a most-active contract. (News agencies)