Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Tuesday, 25 March 2008

US stocks mixed after weak data

Wall Street
US consumer confidence has hit a five-year low

US stocks had a mixed session on Tuesday with strong metal and oil stocks helping compensate for a weak report on the economy.

The main Dow Jones index fell 0.1%, the broader S&P 500 edged higher, and the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.6%.

Stocks fell after a key measure of US consumer confidence showed a sharp fall in March, raising economic worries

But metal and mining shares were helped by the weaker dollar, Alcoa added 2% and Devon Energy added 3.8%.

"The catalyst for commodities is the weaker dollar and it's allowing other groups to rally," said Steve Goldman, market strategist at Weeden & Co.

"Global growth, at least from a commodities standpoint, will probably stay intact," he added.

European shares briefly trimmed earlier gains but stayed in positive territory.

The UK's FTSE 100 ended up 193.9 points, or 3.53%, at 5,689.1, Germany's Dax was 3.24% higher and France's Cac 40 rose 3.49%.

'Ready for a rebound'

JP Morgan's higher offer for troubled Bear Stearns has eased fears about the extent of woes in the banking sector.

But analysts were divided on whether Tuesday's gains in Europe and Asia were likely to continue.

"I think this is the beginning of a rally," said Francis Lun, a general manager at Fulbright Securities in Hong Kong.

"We have gone down low enough and the market is ready for a rebound. Banks will lead the rally."

But Societe Generale's Arthur van Slooten said the gains may only "be a temporary relief".

"To be convinced that this is the floor, we need more indications that the credit market is stabilising," he said.

"Until that happens, equities will remain under pressure, so this could be a small rally in a bear market."

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