Wednesday Wall Street Smiles on Stimulus

Stocks rose slightly news of a tentative tentative agreement on the stimulus plan.

It’s too early to say what the effects will be on Main Street, but Wall Street found Wednesday’s news of a tentative Congressional agreement on a financial resuscitation plan at least mildly stimulating.

Disappointment with a new Treasury Department rescue plan sent stock markets reeling on Tuesday, but word of a Congressional compromise between House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill sent shares on an upward path — although the rebound fell far short of undoing the previous day’s widespread damage to market capitalizations.

The S&P Retail Index, down 4.2 percent on Tuesday, was up 0.3 percent, to 266.59, on Wednesday while the S&P 500 clocked in with a 0.8 percent jump to 833.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, off 4.6 percent in Tuesday’s session, picked up 0.6 percent to 7,939.53, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4 percent, to 1,530.50.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that House and Senate conference negotiators had reached a deal on a $789 billion economic stimulus package as lawmakers moved quickly to get the bill to President Barack Obama’s desk. The conference committee, including Reid, was meeting at press time Wednesday night in a formal session to discuss the compromise deal and ratify it before sending it back to the House and Senate for a final vote.

Jones Apparel Group Inc.’s stock rose 9.8 percent to $3.58 on word of lower-than-expected fourth-quarter losses, while Perry Ellis International Inc. and Liz Claiborne Inc. shares rose 5.3 percent and 5 percent, respectively, to $4.18 and $2.71.

Gains on the retail side, while hardly universal, tended to fall into the specialty store camp, with Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. advancing 13.5 percent to $1.35, AnnTaylor Stores Corp. ahead 6.7 percent to $5.92 and Casual Male Retail Group Inc. up 4.9 percent to 43 cents.