Wall Street Soars on Bank-Relief Measures

Updated from 11:20 a.m. EDT

Stocks in the U.S. rocketed higher Monday, as governments worldwide initiated massive emergency aid packages for struggling banks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 514 points to 8965, and the S&P 500 jumped 55 points to 955. The Nasdaq was better by 110 points at 1759.

During the previous week, the three major indices took a severe lashing as investors worried that stagnant credit markets weren't responding to curative efforts by the U.S. and other governments. The Dow and the S&P each dropped 18%, and the Nasdaq fell 15%.

The cost of borrowing appeared to relax slightly, as three-month dollar Libor fell 6.6 basis points to 4.75%. Overnight Libor rates were not assessed as U.S. bond markets were closed in observance of Columbus Day.

Over the weekend, central banks across the globe were initiating policies to offer liquidity to banks and bolster lending markets.

In the U.S., Interim Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Neel Kashkari said Monday that the Treasury Department had enlisted law firm Simpson Thatcher to advise it on a plan to buy equity positions as a measure in its $700 billion relief package for financial firms.

The U.K. announced a plan to inject capital into three of its struggling banks. Royal Bank of Scotland ( RBS), Lloyds ( LYG) and HBOS will get up to $63 billion in government support, the U.K. government said.

The leaders of European nations announced that they would engage in a coordinated bailout package for the 15-member Eurozone, and European central banks said they will provide dollar liquidity to banks as needed. France and Italy are expected to detail their own plans later Monday. Germany, meanwhile, was preparing to expand a bailout package for its banks to $680 billion.

Australia said it would guarantee all of its banks' deposits and international debt. The United Arab Emirates said it would guarantee its domestic bank deposits.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was looking into a U.S. program to guarantee debt issued by domestic banks following the significant intervention by European governments.

The Federal Reserve said it would offer unlimited dollar funding to swap facilities with several European central banks to meet increasing demand.

Paulson has reportedly called an afternoon meeting with key U.S. banking chiefs. According to the Journal, the Treasury Secretary has invited Ken Lewis of Bank of America ( BAC), Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs ( GS), John Mack of Morgan Stanley ( MS) and Vikram Pandit of Citigroup ( C) to meet at 3 p.m.

In company news, mergers and equity investments were dominating the headlines. Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ ( MTU) closed a deal with Morgan Stanley ( MS) to buy a 21% stake in the U.S. bank holding company.

Meanwhile, Banco Santander ( STD) said it may acquire all of troubled U.S. thrift Sovereign Bancorp ( SOV).

The Fed said it had cleared the way for Wells Fargo's ( WFC) purchase of Wachovia ( WB).

Outside the financials, General Motors ( GM) was in discussions with Cerberus Capital Management to buy Chrysler's automotive operations, according to published reports. Cerberus owns an 80% stake in Chrysler.

In analyst actions, Goldman Sachs predicted that the S&P 500 would climb 11% to reach 1000 at the end of the year. There's a high probability of a rally, Goldman said, but the rebound would not mark the beginning of a new bull market.

Merrill Lynch also upgraded Royal Bank of Scotland and German bank Commerzbank to buy from neutral. Barclays ( BCS), Credit Suisse ( CS) and Allied Irish Bank ( AIB) got bumped to neutral from underperform. Merrill said it revised its ratings on the banks based on valuation.

Among technology shares, Friedman Billings reduced price targets on a wide array of technology companies, including Microsoft ( MSFT), McAfee ( MFE) and Adobe Systems ( ADBE).

As for commodities, crude oil was up $3.41 at $81.11 a barrel, and gold was lower by $25.70 at $833.30.

The market for U.S. Treasury securities was closed. The dollar was falling substantially vs. the euro and pound but rising against the yen.

Europe's exchanges, such as the FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt, were trading higher. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 10%. Japan's Nikkei was closed for a holiday.

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