Window dressing boosts US stocks

US STOCKS rose yesterday as higher oil prices lifted shares of energy companies and fund managers snapped up this quarter&rsquo;s winners to embellish their portfolios.<br /><br />Energy shares were a strong performer in the quarter, and a 3.4 per cent jump in the price of oil lifted them even further. <strong>Exxon Mobil</strong> was the Dow&rsquo;s top driver, rising 2.2 per cent to $70.58.<br /><br />Fund managers are building up their portfolios before the quarter ends today in a ritual known as &ldquo;window dressing&rdquo; by selling some of the quarter&rsquo;s losers and scooping up the winners. This move bolstered stocks as well.<br /><br />Financials, the day&rsquo;s top advancer, also led quarterly gains, followed by technology. The S&amp;P 500 is up 16.2 per cent so far for the quarter, putting it on track for its best quarter since the fourth quarter of 1998, when the index jumped nearly 21 per cent. <br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average gained 90.99 points, or 1.08 per cent, to end at 8,529.38. The Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s 500 Index was up 8.33 points, or 0.91 per cent, at 927.23. <br /><br />The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.84 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 1,844.06.<br /><br />Shares of home builders also helped underpin the market after Credit Suisse raised its rating on <strong>KB Home</strong>, citing stronger orders and more attractive valuation. KB Home was up 5.1 per cent at $14.11.<br /><br />The Dow Jones US Home Construction Index advanced 1.5 per cent.<br /><br />Wall Street&rsquo;s eyes and ears were also on the news coverage of Bernie Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running what prosecutors called a $65bn Ponzi scheme.<br /><br />Crude oil futures jumped $2.33 to settle at $71.49 per barrel after Nigerian militants said they attacked the country&rsquo;s oil facilities, which set off some concerns about supply.<br /><br />An S&amp;P energy index was up 1.3 per cent, while <strong>Occidental Petroleum</strong> jumped 2.9 per cent to $66.13.<br /><br />On the Nasdaq, <strong>Microsoft</strong> advanced 2.2 per cent to $23.86 after Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the stock to $30 from $22.