On the upsideOil and metals stocks attracted investors. Shares of Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) rose sharply.
Shipping companies join the rally with shares of Eagle Bulk Shopping (Nasdaq: EGLE) and DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS) among the morning's big gainers.
Discount retailers Big Lots (NYSE: BIG) posted lower 4th quarter revenues and profits, but the results beat estimates. Meanwhile, management raised its outlook for 2009.
The cost of protecting
debt held by General Electric Capital Corp (NYSE: GE) against default rose to record 20%. The stock of its parent company promptly tumbled to mulit-decade lows.
On the downside
MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM) delayed its quarterly filing with the SEC. Investors worried that the hotel and casino operator may default on debt and interest payments.
New Gold (Alternext: NGD) and Western Goldfields (Alternext: WGW) announced a merger as near equals.
In the broad market, advancing issues outpaced decliners by a margin
of nearly 3 to 1 on the NYSE and by more than 2 to 1 on Nasdaq. The
Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks rose 3 points to 364.