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Gains as Europe slips from grip of crisis

By — Bloomberg News,

U.S. stocks rose last week, restoring the year-to-date gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, as improving economic data and leadership changes in Greece and Italy bolstered investor optimism.

Walt Disney and Cisco Systems advanced more than 5.4 percent after reporting better-than-estimated profits, helping lead the Dow Jones industrial average higher.

The S&P 500 rose 0.9 percent last week, to 1,263.85, overcoming a 3.7 percent decline on Wednesday that was the largest one-day loss since Aug. 18. The Dow gained 170.44 points, or 1.4 percent, to 12,153.68.

“With abated fears on Europe and abated fears on the U.S. economy, there is a general sense that the world is not going to come to an end,” said Uri Landesman, who helps oversee $1 billion at hedge fund Platinum Partners. “Neither the bulls nor the bears are digging in their heels, so there is overreaction to the news all the time, and you get these big one-day moves.”

Stocks resumed the rally that had driven the S&P 500 up as much as 20 percent since the first week of October. Equities gained after U.S. consumer confidence improved and Italy’s Senate approved debt-reduction measures, paving the way for a new government led by former European Union competition commissioner Mario Monti. Greece swore in Lucas Papademos to head a unity government.

The Treasury will sell $29 billion in three-month bills and $27 billion in six-month bills on Monday. They yielded 0.05 percent and 0.035 percent, respectively, in when-issued trading. The Treasury also will sell $25 billion in one-year bills Tuesday.

— Bloomberg News

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