US stocks surge on retail sales, GM, Bernanke comments

New York, Nov 17 (DPA) US stocks rose Monday to 1-month highs after reports of improving retail sales, a better-than-expected General Motors quarterly report and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s hopes for growth in 2010.

Retail sales climbed 1.4 percent in October, according to new government data coming ahead of the upcoming holiday season. But September’s sales were revised downward to a 2.3-percent drop, from a previously estimated 1.5 percent.

Bernanke, who heads the rate-setting US central bank, told the Economic Club of New York he was hopeful that the country’s economic recovery would continue beyond the “temporary factors” such as public spending that drove growth in the third quarter.

He rejected predictions by some economists that the US will fall back into recession in 2010, himself forecasting modest growth for the coming year. But he warned that unemployment would remain high through the end of 2010.

US automotive giant General Motors Co reported a $1.2-billion loss in the third quarter of 2009, beating analysts’ expectations, and said it would start the long process of repaying government loans in December.

GM chief executive Fritz Henderson said the company’s first profit report since emerging from bankruptcy gave it a “solid foundation” for its restructuring effort.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 136.49 points, or 1.33 percent, to 10,406.96. The broader Standard and Poor’s 500 Index jumped 15.82 points, or 1.45 percent, to 1,109.3. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 29.97 points, or 1.38 percent, to 2,197.85.

The dollar dropped against the euro to 66.78 euro cents from 67.1 euro cents Friday. The dollar declined against the Japanese currency to 89.11 yen from 89.66 yen.