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U.S. stock indexes, which recorded modest gains on Thursday, shot higher from the opening bell on Friday and remained firmly in positive territory all day. After rising by more than 1 percent each at the open, the major indexes added to their gains after a better than expected sentiment reading was released 25 minutes into the trading day. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index jumped to 64.2 in November from 60.9 the month before. It was the strongest reading since June for the indicator, which was expected to show a smaller increase to 61.3.
The Citigroup Economic Surprise Index for the U.S., which tracks whether macro economic reports are exceeding or missing estimates, reached a seven-month high. Earnings for the companies in the S&P 500 for the third quarter have also been a plus for the stock market as around three out of every four companies have beaten their consensus estimates.
While the prospects for the U.S. economy appear somewhat brighter than they did earlier in the year the stock market is still focused mainly on the European debt crisis. Some progress late in the week and the lack of any bad news on Friday helped to pave the way to gains by stock indexes on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average did the best with a gain of 259.89 points, or 2.19 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite advanced by around 2 percent each when they rose by 24.16 points and 53.60 points, respectively. Volume was lower on both of the major U.S. exchanges, but that was expected because government offices and the bond market were closed for Veterans Day.
Reports from Europe indicated that the Italian Senate passed a new budget law that would pave the way for final approval of the package in the lower house this weekend. It would also allow for the formation of an emergency government. New Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will be naming a new crisis cabinet. But he is expected to have a difficult time, with opposition growing to more austerity in the debt-ridden nation.
If the news from Italy and Greece is good on Monday, stocks in the U.S. could add to their late-week gains. If there are setbacks in the attempts to deal with the debt crises in those countries, look for stocks to begin the week with losses.
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