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U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward the highest level since July, as slowing Chinese growth added to speculation that monetary policy at the world’s second-largest economy will ease.
Stocks joined a global rally as China’s growth slowed after Europe’s debt crisis curbed export demand and the property market weakened, sustaining pressure on Premier Wen Jiabao to ease monetary policy. Spanish borrowing costs plunged at an auction as investors ignored S&P downgrades last week. Manufacturing in the New York region grew in January at the fastest pace in nine months.
Wells Fargo jumped 1.8 percent to $30.16. Profit beat analysts’ estimates as mortgage financing improved. New mortgages rose 35 percent to $120 billion from the three months ended September at Wells Fargo, the biggest U.S. home lender, while dropping 6 percent from a year earlier.
Sears surged 8.9 percent to $36.56. Sears, working to turn around four years of declining sales, has lost ground as shoppers have flocked to such rivals as Macy’s Inc.
Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT) added 1.9 percent to $38.47. The food company said it will realign its U.S. sales organization and cut 1,600 jobs in North America throughout 2012 as part of its move to divide its snacks and grocery businesses.
Citigroup lost 6.4 percent to $28.76. Trading declines mirrored results at JPMorgan, which said last week that revenue in every investment-banking business fell from a year earlier.
Carnival tumbled 14 percent, the most on a closing basis since 2001, to $29.50. The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it ran aground hours after leaving a port near Rome to continue a Mediterranean cruise. The accident has left at least 11 people dead.
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