Bear Stearns price hike helps Wall Street extend rally

NEW YORK, March 24, 2008 (AFP) – US stocks powered higher Monday as a sharply higher price announced for the takeover of troubled investment bank Bear Stearns eased concerns about a financial sector meltdown. News of a surprise rebound in existing home sales also brightened the mood on Wall Street, where analysts said sentiment appeared to be stabilizing after a dismal start to 2008.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lifted 187.32 points (1.53 percent) to close at 12,548.64, extending strong gains from last week ahead of a three-day Easter holiday weekend.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite leapt 68.64 points (3.04 percent) to 2,326.75 and the broad-market Standard & Poor’s 500 index increased 20.37 points (1.53 percent) to 1,349.88.

The gains came as banking giant JPMorgan Chase agreed to quintuple its offer for Bear Stearns in view of shareholder opposition at the troubled investment bank to the bargain-basement price offered in a hastily brokered deal last week.

The news helped boost sentiment on Wall Street, which according to some analysts has emerged from hibernation after a dismal start to 2008 after a multi-faceted effort by the Federal Reserve to help ease gridlock in the credit