GE surge lifts US stocks

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks Friday posted solid gains as a big General Electric asset sale added to the Wall Street deal wave on a strong day for global equity markets.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 18,057.75, up 99.02 points (0.55 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 10.95 (0.52 per cent) to 2,102.13 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 21.41 (0.43 per cent) to 4,995.98.

GE led the Dow, bolting 10.8 per cent higher after announcing it would sell US$26.5 billion (S$36.1 billion) in real estate assets as part of a plan to pare off most GE Capital assets over the next 24 months.

The GE announcement came on the heels of major merger announcements earlier in the week from Royal Dutch Shell and FedEx.

Equity markets in Britain, France and Germany hit all-time or multi-year highs Friday, while Japan's Nikkei 225 rose above 20,000 for the first time in 15 years before ending the day lower.