Dow's 247-Point Gain Is Biggest In 3 Months; Investors Cheering - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Dow's 247-Point Gain Is Biggest In 3 Months; Investors Cheering

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks surged over 2% Wednesday as signs of economic strength in the United States and China tempered worries about the European debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) soared 249 points, or 2.3%, according to early tallies. The S&P 500 (SPX) jumped 25 points, or 2.2%, and Nasdaq (COMP) added 51 points, or 2%.

It was the biggest one-day gain for the Dow since early September, and came after stocks ended November on a sour note, with all three major gauges marking declines for the month.

Stocks opened sharply higher Wednesday as investors cheered a batch of upbeat economic reports, including a strong gain in private-sector payrolls and better-than-expected auto sales.

The rally gained momentum after economists at Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) raised their forecast for U.S. growth next year to 2.7% from 1.9%. The Federal Reserve's latest snapshot of economic conditions showed the nation's gradual recovery continued in October and November.

"There's a growing sense the economy isn't doing as badly as was priced in three months ago," said Brian Gendreau, market strategist at Financial Network. "All it took was mixed news to price out the double-dip recession, now we're getting genuinely good news."

The improved outlook for U.S. growth overshadowed concerns about the debt problems facing some European economies. Those jitters were further eased by comments from the head of the European Central Bank, which raised speculation that the ECB is prepared to take additional steps to aid the European economy.

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