* Bank shares jump after Barclays news
* FASB proposes more leeway on mark-to-market accounting
* Dow and S&P 500 up 2 pct; Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to midday, changes byline)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 16 The Dow industrials and the
S&P 500 climbed on Monday as Barclays said it had a strong
start for 2009, joining other major banks, and added it
discussed selling one of its units.
The Nasdaq's gains were limited, however, as some investors
pulled money out of semiconductor and biotech shares to pour
some funds into recently beaten-down financial stocks. An index
of semiconductor stocks .SOXX fell 1.5 percent, with dominant
chip maker Intel (INTC.O) down 1.6 percent at $14.47.
Banking shares got a lift after British bank Barclays Plc
(BARC.L)(BCS.N) said it had a "strong start" to 2009, echoing
comments last week by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), JPMorgan
(JPM.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) that they had been profitable
in January and February. Barclays also confirmed it had
discussed selling its iShares unit, in a move that could help
it avoid giving a stake to the British government. For details
Citi shares jumped nearly 40 percent to $2.46 while Bank of
America gained 17 percent to $6.73 and JPMorgan added 4.5
percent to $24.83. The KBW bank index .BKX shot up 7 percent
after last week's advance of 37.4 percent.
In other positive news, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke said during an interview on the CBS program "60
Minutes" on Sunday that the U.S. recession could probably come
to an end this year and "we'll see recovery beginning next
"Barclays was reiterating what we got from Citi, Bank of
America and JPMorgan last week in that their business looks
good," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush
Morgan in San Francisco.
"We got what was generally considered to be a great
performance from Ben Bernanke on TV last night, and a
combination of those two has got the market moving with
financials leading the way."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI shot up 143.36
points, or 1.98 percent, to 7,367.34. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index .SPX gained 15.47 points, or 2.04 percent, to 772.00.
The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC rose 4.33 points, or 0.30
percent, to 1,434.83.
A positive close for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500
would mark a 5-day positive streak for both indexes, not seen
since the last week of November 2008. That said, the S&P 500 is
down around 15 percent in 2009 and close to 50 percent from
highs reached in October 2007.
Financial stocks also gained support from news that the
Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets U.S.
accounting rules, proposed to give more leeway on
mark-to-market accounting rules. [ID:nN16511198]
Mark-to-market accounting has forced financial institutions
to write down billions of dollars in assets.
On Nasdaq, shares of Apple(AAPL.O), the maker of the iPod
and the iPhone, provided the top boost, with a gain of 1.1
percent to $96.98, followed by Microsoft (MSFT.O), up 1.3
percent at $16.86. Google (GOOG.O) was up 1.2 percent at
In the biotech sector, Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) lost 1.8
percent to $44.63 on Nasdaq.
In economic news, a report showed that a gauge of New York
State manufacturing activity hit a record low in March.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)