After moving sharply higher at the start of trading on Wednesday, stocks continued to perform well throughout the session. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to news of a last-minute fiscal cliff agreement in Washington.
Most of the major sectors moved notably higher on the day, reflecting broad based buying interest on the heels of the fiscal cliff deal.
Semiconductor stocks posted particularly strong gains, driving the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index up by 4.1 percent. Standout gains by MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) and Lam Research (LRCX) helped lift the index to its best closing level in over three months.
Considerable strength was also visible among steel stocks, which benefited from the elimination of some of the uncertainty about the outlook for the economy. The NYSE Arca Steel Index jumped 3.5 percent to an eight-month closing high.
Biotechnology, networking, airline, and housing stocks also posted notable gains, while some retail stocks bucked the uptrend amid concerns about the impact of higher payroll taxes.
The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 308.41 points or 2.4 percent to 13,412.55, the Nasdaq surged up 92.75 points or 3.1 percent to 3,112.26 and the S&P 500 soared 36.23 points or 2.5 percent to 1,462.42.
With the strong gains on the day, the Dow and the Nasdaq reached their best closing levels in well over two years, while the S&P 500 reached a three-month closing high. (RTTNews)
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