Investor buys Microsoft stake and lifts stocks

US stocks climbed yesterday as last week’s sharp losses brought buyers back to the market and shares of Microsoft jumped after an activist investor took a stake in the company.

Helping the Dow, shares of Caterpillar rose 2.8 per cent to $82.71, as the company said the pullback in spending by miners was temporary. The stock gains came despite a lowered 2013 outlook from the company.

Among other gainers, shares of Halliburton, the oil field services company, rose 5.6 per cent to $39.29 after the company posted quarterly results and said it is in talks to settle private claims against it in a trial.

The market’s bounce followed the S&P 500'’ worst weekly loss since November and suggested to some market watchers that a much debated market correction has yet to arrive.

“It still seems like the bulls are buying the dips. Unless there is a fair amount of bad news, I think the market hangs in at these levels,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners in New York, who added he still expects the market to be ‘significantly lower” in six months.

Lifting both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, Microsoft jumped 3.6 per cent to $30.83 after CNBC reported that ValueAct Capital had taken a $2bn stake in the company.

Google shares, which fell as much as 3.1 per cent within the first 10 minutes of trading, ended up 0.03 per cent at $800.11 in yesterday’s session. On Friday, Google shares had gained 4.4 per cent a day after the company had posted upbeat results.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.66 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 14,567.17 at the close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 7.25 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 1,562.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 27.50 points, or 0.86 per cent, to close at 3,233.55.