Wall Street soars on hopes from D.C.

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NEW YORK -- You can almost hear Wall Street exhaling.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 300 points Thursday after Republican leaders and President Barack Obama finally seemed willing to end a 10-day budget standoff that has threatened to leave the U.S. unable to pay its bills.

The news drove the Dow to its biggest point rise this year and ended a three-week funk in stocks. It also injected some calm into the frazzled market for short-term government debt.

Republican leaders said Thursday they would vote to extend the government's borrowing authority for six weeks. A spokesman said the president would "likely" sign a bill to increase the nation's ability to borrow money so it can continue paying its bills.

"Congressmen and women are coming to terms with how calamitous it would be if the debt ceiling was not raised," said Joseph Tanious, Global Market Strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "Cooler heads are prevailing."

The Dow jumped 323.09 points, or 2.2 percent, to close at 15,126.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 36.16 points, or 2.2 percent, to 1,692.56; and the Nasdaq composite rose 82.97 points, or 2.3 percent, to 3,760.75.

Thursday's gains were extraordinarily broad. Of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 index, only 11 fell. Banks and industrial stocks rose the most.

Pittsburgh area stocks went along for the ride. None of the companies in The Post-Gazette/Bloomberg Index of regional stocks declined Wednesday.

For-profit educator Education Management led the pack, jumping nearly 9 percent to finish at $10.48, up 84 cents. Communication systems provider Black Box advanced $1.46 to finish at $29.10 while coal and natural gas producer Consol Energy tacked on $1.72 to close at $36.79.

Other winners included Ellwood City banker ESB Financial, which finished at $13.09, up 46 cents; Bank of New York Mellon, up $1.03 to $30.81; and U.S. Steel, which rose 73 cents to close at $21.90.

In another bullish signal, small-company stocks rose even more than the rest of the market. Those stocks tend to be riskier than large, well-established companies but can also offer investors greater rewards. A sharp increase in small-company stocks means investors are more comfortable taking on risk. The Russell 2000 index jumped 26.04 points, or 2.5 percent, to 1,069.50.

There were hopeful signs in the market for short-term U.S. government debt. The yield on the one-month Treasury bill eased to 0.25 percent from 0.27 late Wednesday.

The yield had spiked from near zero at the beginning of the month to as high as 0.35 percent Tuesday as investors dumped the bills out of concern that the government might not be able to pay them back when they're due. Investors demand higher yields when they perceive debt as being risky.

businessnews

Len Boselovic of the Post-Gazette contributed to this report. First Published October 10, 2013 8:00 PM


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