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Stocks Rebound as Eurozone Fears Ease


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished with solid gains Friday after the European Central Bank pursued measures to boost banks on the continent and a growth package was put forth at a "mini" European summit in Rome.

The news provided a measure of relief for investors still digesting statements from U.S. central bank officials earlier in the day that the Federal Reserve is unlikely to pursue any aggressive measures to stimulate the economy anytime soon. The financials were market leaders as an anticipated downgrade of major global banks by Moody's wasn't as severe as anticipated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 67 points, or 0.53%, to close at 12,641. The blue-chip index lost 1% in its first weekly decline in three weeks.

The S&P 500 was gained nearly 10 points, or 0.72%, to finish at 1335. It lost 0.59% for the week.

The Nasdaq was advanced 33 points, or 1.17%, to settle at 2892. Despite Thursday's severe sell-off, the Nasdaq still managed to finish the week with a 0.66% gain.

Year-to-date, the Dow is up 3.5%, the S&P 500 has added 6.2%, and the Nasdaq has risen 11%.

Of the 30 Dow components, 28 were moving higher, led by Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Merck (MRK) and Microsoft (MSFT), all up more than 1.5%.

Caterpillar (CAT) and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) were the only blue chips in decline.

Late Thursday, Moody's lowered the credit ratings of fifteen of the biggest global banks but the stocks shrugged off the news. Shares of JPMorgan Chase jumped nearly 2%. The KBW Bank index was up 1.6% on the day.

In the broad market, the technology, health care and consumer cyclical sectors were the best-performing industry groups, aside from the financials.

The European Central Bank said it plans to widen the range of collateral for its lending activities, accepting lower quality assets and reducing the rating threshold, in efforts to try to help facilitate the expansion of lending.

The Governing Council said in a statement that it has decided on "additional measures to improve the access of the banking sector to eurosystem operations in order to further support the provision of credit to households and non-financial corporations."

Stocks suffered their worst single-day drop in three weeks on Thursday as investors were spooked by a gloomy batch of global economic data, a bearish trading call by Goldman Sachs and disappointment with the outcome of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.

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