U.S. stock indexes rose for the first time in four days on Monday, despite big losses for pharmaceutical giant Merck, while lower oil prices improved business activity and a Treasury plan was announced to boost the economy against growing credit losses.

The S&P 500 added 7.48 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,322.7, lowering its monthly loss to 0.6 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 46.49, or 0.4 percent, to 12,262.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 17.92, or 0.8 percent, to 2,279.1. Almost two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The gains were however, not enough to erase the memory of what was Wall Street's worst quarter since 2002, which sent the S&P 500 to its longest monthly losing streak in nearly twenty years.

Henry Paulson released a 218-page Blueprint for Regulatory Reform,'' commissioned two months before credit markets seized up in August, which said that more rules will not solve the current period of turmoil.

The former chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the structure of regulating banks, securities firms and insurance companies is outmoded, and he acknowledged that the changes will take many years to complete'' and most will require legislative approval.

The world's biggest financial institutions have reported more than $200 billion in asset write downs and credit losses stemming from the collapse of the U.S. subprime-mortgage market.

World Markets

European markets closed mixed today. The Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50, a index tracking the 50 largest companies of Europe, dropped 12.99 points, or 0.36 percent, to 3628.06. The FTSE 100, London's benchmark index, gained 9.20 points, or 0.16 percent, to 5702.10.

France's CAC 40 Index increased 11.15 points, or 0.24 percent, to 4707.07 and Germany's DAX declined 24.93, or 0.38 percent, to 6534.97.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index lost 294.93 points, or 2.3 percent, to 12525.54. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 436.75, or 1.88 percent, to 22849.20.