NEW YORK Wall Street shot higher Tuesday, lifting the Dow Jones industrials nearly 320 points after reassuring news from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. quelled some of the market's worst fears about the credit crisis and the economy. A plunge in the price of oil gave investors further incentive to buy.
Goldman Sachs heartened investors with word that it didn't expect a significant hit from the subprime mortgage turmoil. Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, speaking at a conference held by Merrill Lynch & Co., said the bank has a short position in the subprime mortgage market and won't be taking any significant charges to write off losses.
Goldman's news helped offset an announcement from Bank of America Inc., which joined other big financial companies including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch that have recently revealed heavy writedowns from soured mortgages; BofA said it will record $3 billion in pretax writedowns in the fourth quarter.
Goldman's assessment was the first substantial good news from the financial services industry about a company's credit exposure, and was heartening to investors whose fears about widening credit problems have sent Wall Street plunging over the past month.
"People just want to know what's out there," said Todd Leone, managing director of equity trading at Cowen & Co. "They want to feel like they're being told the truth."
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, reported third-quarter profit surpassed projections and hinted that consumer spending might be stronger than anticipated this holiday shopping season. The results also showed that heavy discounting during the period did not hurt margins, which the company said bodes well for the fourth quarter.
A sharp pullback in energy prices also encouraged Wall Street. Oil prices plummeted after the International Energy Agency reduced its expectations for demand in the fourth quarter and next year and said crude supplies are growing. Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell $3.45 to settle at $91.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 319.54, or 2.46 percent, to 13,307.09.
A day earlier, a turbulent session pushed the Dow below 13,000 for the first time since August. Tuesday's advance snapped a four-day losing streak for the blue chip index.Broader indexes also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 index jumped 41.86, or 2.91 percent, to 1,481.04, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 89.52, or 3.46 percent, to 2,673.65.