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Stocks surge on bank plan

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Wall Street got the news it wanted on the economy’s biggest problems — banks and housing — and celebrated by hurtling the Dow Jones industrials up nearly 500 points.

Investors added rocket fuel Monday to a two-week-old advance, cheering the government’s plan to help banks remove bad assets from their books and also welcoming a report showing a surprising increase in home sales. Major stock indicators surged more than 6 percent, including the Dow, which had its biggest percentage gain since October.

The market shot higher at the opening and kept going. The Treasury Department said its bad asset cleanup program would tap money from the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund and involve help from the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the participation of private investors.

The Dow rose 497.48, or 6.8 percent, to 7,775.86, its highest finish since Feb. 13. It was the biggest point gain for the blue chips since Nov. 13 when they rose 552 points and the biggest percentage gain since Oct. 28. when they rose 10.9 percent. It was the fifth biggest point gain in the Dow’s history.

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Broader stock indicators also surged. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 54.38, or 7.1 percent, to 822.92, crossing the psychological milepost of 800. The Nasdaq composite index rose 98.50, or 6.8 percent, to 1,555.77.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 33.61, or 8.4 percent, to 433.72.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, which reflects nearly all stocks traded in America, jumped 7 percent. That’s a paper gain of about $700 billion.

More than 10 stocks rose for every one that fell .

The Dow is now up 1,228 points, or 18.8 percent, from March 9, when it finished at its lowest point in nearly 12 years, although it’s still down 1,000 points in 2009. The S&P 500 is up 21.6 percent in that time.

The Dow and the S&P 500 index remain more than 45 percent below their peak in October 2007.

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