Sun, Dec 04, 2011 - Page 10 News List

US stocks boom as Europe moves to fix debt woes

POSITIVE DATA FLOW:Better-than-expected US reports on manufacturing activity, auto sales and the unemployment rate also encouraged investors

AFP, NEW YORK

US stock markets scored banner weekly gains on Friday, but traders likely will focus on Europe ahead of an EU summit to tackle steps to resolve the eurozone debt crisis.

A light US economic calendar should help to keep the attention on Europe, where EU leaders on Thursday and Friday will tackle the debt crisis that is weakening the financial system of the 17-nation region.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 787.64 points, or 7.01 percent, over the week, closing on Friday at 12,019.42.

It was the blue-chip Dow’s second-highest point gain since the week ending Oct. 31, 2008, when it rose 946.06 points.

The Dow was up 5.6 from 52 weeks ago and up 3.82 percent in the year to date.

The tech-rich NASDAQ advanced 185.42 points, or 7.59 percent, to finish at 2,626.93.

The S&P 500, a broader measure of the markets, climbed 85.61 points, or 7.39 percent, to 1,244.28.

“It was a big week for equities, as markets became more optimistic about prospects for a resolution of the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis,” IHS Global Insight economists Nigel Gault and Patrick Newport said.

The markets rallied on Monday on hopes for a breakthrough on the crisis, and a coordinated central bank intervention on Wednesday to ease credit for commercial banks in response to the crisis pushed stocks up more than 4 percent.

A fairly positive flow of US economic and business data kept up support for stocks, despite the continued worries about Europe.

“Domestically, economic indicators have continued to improve even as indicators from overseas have worsened,” the IHS Global Insight analysts said.

A better-than-expected reading from the Institute for Supply Management on Thursday on the nation’s manufacturing activity last month stood in contrast to deteriorating conditions in the sector in Europe and China.

Also on Thursday, US auto sales numbers for last month clocked in the best performance since the government’s cash-for-clunkers incentive program jumpstarted depressed sales in August 2009.

And the keenly awaited jobs market report for last month report packed a positive surprise on Friday. The unemployment rate tumbled to a 32-month low of 8.6 percent, though most analysts had forecast it would remain stuck at 9 percent for a second straight month.

Economists pointed to a sharp drop in the number of people looking for work, which helped push down the unemployment rate.

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