U.S. stocks gained, snapping a two- day losing streak, as life insurers jumped on prospects of a government bailout and Pulte Homes Inc. agreed to buy Centex Corp. to create the nation’s largest homebuilder and
Lincoln National Corp. rallied 33 percent and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. added 13 percent as the Treasury said it may give Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to life insurers. Centex surged 19 percent as Pulte Homes said it will buy the company in a $1.3 billion stock deal. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., the largest U.S. home-furnishings retailer, rose the most in nine years on better-than-estimated earnings.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 1.2 percent to 825.16. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 47.55 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,837.11. Four stocks gained for each that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. The MSCI World Index of 23 developed nations added 0.5 percent.
The S&P 500 and Dow briefly turned negative in the final two hours after the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting said “downside risks” remained in the economy. Policy makers feared the nation might fall into a self- reinforcing cycle of rising unemployment and slumping spending, the minutes showed.