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The markets rallied on Friday on the back of optimism that global central banks will act to prop up the global economy, but the gains weren't enough to stem Wall Street's weekly loss.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 101 points, or 0.77%, to 13158, the S&P 500 gained 9.1 points, or 0.65%, to 1411 and Nasdaq Composite climbed 16.4 points, or 0.54%, to 3070.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.9%, the S&P 500 shed 0.5% and the Nasdaq shed 0.2%. The biggest laggards were utility, industrial and telecommunications shares. On the other side of the spectrum, health-care names managed to eke out modest gains.
The Dow took its worst thrashing since July 20 on Thursday, sinking 115 points in its fourth-straight decline. The focus has begun shifting to the eurozone once again as plans to save the currency bloc have become more complicated.
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The European Central Bank is considering a plan to target sovereign bond yields, according to a report from Reuters citing unamed sources. German magazine Der Spiegel reported last weekend that the central bank could set an explicit cap to bond spreads, the difference between a benchmark (such as the German bund) and the targeted sovereign debt. The idea reported by Reuters would instead involve targeting bands, or ranges, in the hopes of shielding the central bank's strategy to some extent.
Several countries, including Spain and Italy, have had to deal with painfully high borrowing costs in private lending markets that have ratcheted up the chances one could need a sovereign bailout down the line. Such a move would cost billions of euros and would likely be subject to intense political opposition across the eurozone.
Greece, which has received two big bailout packages, has been negotiating to push back the date at it which it needs to meet its fiscal goals. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss the program. At a press conference Merkel said Germany, the bloc's paymaster, plans on waiting for a report from the Troika on Greece's reforms before making any decisions. That could represent a stumbling block for Greece, which needs external aid to service its debt.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee the central bank has room to ease monetary policy further to speed up the U.S. economic recovery or ease conditions in financial markets, according to a letter obtained by FOX Business.
On the U.S. front, orders for long-lasting U.S. goods rose 4.2% in July from June, blowing past estimates of a 2.4% increase. Excluding the transportation segment, orders were down 0.4%, missing estimates of a 0.5% gain. Analysts at Nomura said the unexpectedly big jump in durable goods was partly attributable to a big increase in sales of Boeing (BA) aircraft. Indeed, orders for non-defense aircraft surged 53.9%.
The data cover goods from microwaves to airplanes and figure into broader measures of U.S. economic output.
Gold futures edged up after hitting the highest level since April last session. The benchmark contract rose 10 cents, or 0.01%, to $1,673 a troy ounce.
Oil dropped 12 cents, or 0.12%, to $96.15 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slumped 1.2% to $3.078 a gallon.
The Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.21% to 2434, the English FTSE 100 was flat at 5777 and the German DAX rose 0.31% to 6971.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sold off by 1.2% to 9071 and the Chinese Hang Seng sunk 1.3% to 19880.