US stock market recovers to near pre-Lehman levels

Saturday, 18 February 2012 10:06

The main US stock market index, the S&P 500 is closing in on the level it was at before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

In a sign that the US economy is recovering its confidence the S&P 500 is close to the level it was at before the collapse of Lehman Brothers which triggered the global market falls seen in 2008.

The index rose by 1.4 per cent this week and is now up by 8.2 per cent this year and just below the highest level it has seen since the financial crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a four-year high yesterday while the technology focused Nasdaq index reached its highest level in over ten years this week.

Healthy US jobs data is one cause of the increased confidence being seen in the United States, as is the fact that most US stocks are more insulated from the euro debt crisis.

The US economy has taken comfort from the actions of the European Central bank (ECB) which lent €500 billion of cheap three-year loans to European banks. Further loans will follow this month.

Even the FTSE 100 is showing some signs of improvement and is now at its highest level since July 2011.

However, the second Greek bailout agreement of €130 billion which is being finalised and should be announced on Monday is another vital step to restoring worldwide market confidence.

The main hurdle is agreeing methods to ensure Greek debt is down to 120 per cent of its GDP by 2020.

Greece has to repay a part of its first bailout in March and a potential default is still very possible that could plunge the stock markets globally into further losses.

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