Early buying was attributed to positive global economic data, which overshadowed another weak read on the U.S. housing market, as well as growing investor optimism about a high-profile speech due from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at the end of the week. The gains accelerated ahead of the close after the S&P 500 broke past 1150, a key technical threshold.
Speculation that Bernanke will lay out a plan for the central bank to support the economy on Friday was a positive, along with promising news that the number of "problem" banks had shrunk for the first time since the financial crisis. Furthermore, no major negative headlines came out from the eurozone.
When the closing bell sounded, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 322 points, almost 3%, at 11,171. The S&P 500 finished ahead 39 points, or 3.4%, at 1162, and the Nasdaq closed up 101 points, or 4.3%, at 2446.The 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia put a slight dent in the Dow mid-afternoon, but the blue-chip index still finished just below its session high of 11,176. The sustained momentum was in stark contrast to Monday's action, which saw the Dow slowly surrender early gains throughout the afternoon. "Since last Thursday, the S&P 500
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