Equities Market Roundup: Wall Street Finishes First Half 2011 Strong as QE2 Ends

Equities Editors Desk  |

U.S. stocks continue to trade higher this week as the Federal Reserve's $600 billion bond buying plan known as QE2 comes to a close. Positive economic data and improving prospects of the European Union financial crisis are helping to lift the market. Investors are starting to shift back their attention to the U.S. economy as Greece's debt situation seems to be under control for the moment. Bulls got some help as the ISM-Chicago index showed that manufacturing in the area improved, and set the stage for Friday's release of national ISM data. In addition, the U.S. Labor Department announced that jobless claims decreased by 1,000 last week, though the number is still over 400,000. The two major catalysts, however, are still the Fed and Congress. As QE2 ends, investors are taking sides on whether or not the Fed was successful or will it have to initiate a third round of bond buying to stimulate the economy. Congress, meanwhile, still needs to address the U.S. debt ceiling or risk a massive default.

Major U.S. Stock Indices

DJIA: 12,391.44 (+1.06 percent)
S&P 500: 1,318.89 (+0.88 percent)
NASDAQ: 2,770.82 (+1.11 percent)
Russell 2000: 827.73 (+0.93 percent)

In other news:

  • The Greek austerity measures have been passed and are on a fast-track to implementation to receive the next installment in its bailout package. [NY Times]
  • The TMX Group (X:CA) and London Stock Exchange (LSE) merger is off. The LSE now may or may not explore a potential deal with NASDAQ OMX Group (NDAQ), who recently failed to acquire NYSE Euronext (NYX). [WSJ]
  • Amazon.com (AMZN) and Overstock.com (OSTK) drop tens of thousands of affiliates in California after the cash-strapped state passed a new law to tax online sales. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • A look back how what the Fed's QE2 manage to accomplish as the bond buying program comes to a close. [CNBC]
  • Groupon (GRPN) competitor Living Social is exploring its own IPO prospects, valuing the company at about $10 billion to $15 billion. [Bloomberg]

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