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Dow Jones Industrial Average Surges

Dow Jones Industrial Average Surges - U.S. stocks capped their best two-day performance since July as better-than-expected retail and home sales painted a brighter picture of the U.S. economy.

Also helping stocks, pressure on the euro eased on talk that the European Central Bank was actively buying more bonds of some of the bloc's more financially stressed governments.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished Thursday up 106.63 points, or 0.95%, to 11362.41. The blue-chip index has gained 3.2% in the first two days of December, its largest two-day rise since July 8.

Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase were among the Dow's strongest components after Goldman Sachs lifted its view on the financial sector to "overweight," marking the first time the firm has been positive on the industry since 2008. Bank of America climbed 39 cents, or 3.5%, to $11.68 and J.P. Morgan added $1.16, or 3%, to $39.31.

The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite gained 29.92 points, or 1.17%, to 2579.35. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 15.46, or 1.28%, to 1221.53, led by its financial, industrial and material sectors. All 10 of its sectors finished in positive territory.

Boosting sentiment for the holiday shopping season, sales at retail stores open more than a year rose 6% in November, above the estimated growth of 3.6% and the year-ago gain of 0.6%, according to Thomson Reuters.

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch surged $5.58, or 11%, to $56.02 after the teen apparel retailer posted a 22% jump in its November same-store sales. J.C. Penney jumped 77 cents, or 2.3%, to $34.47, and Costco Wholesale rose 70 cents, or 1%, to $69.01, as both offered better-than-expected sales reports.

Investors also were encouraged by the National Association of Realtors' pending-home-sales index, which unexpectedly soared 10.4% to 89.3. The report boosted home-improvement retailers and home builders.

Lowe's climbed $1.17, or 4.9%, to $24.92 and Home Depot gained $1.75, or 5.5%, to $33.36. Meanwhile, Lennar gained $1.13, or 7.2%, to $16.88 and PulteGroup added 21 cents, or 3.2%, to $6.75.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Surges

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