The stock market finally shook its post-election slump. Investors seized on hope that Washington will reach a deal on the federal budget and drove stocks to their biggest gain in two months. A pair of strong corporate earnings reports also helped.
Slight improvements in Europe's troubled debt markets and China's economy were enough to send stocks sharply higher Tuesday.
An agreement to contain the European debt crisis electrified the stock market Thursday, driving the Dow Jones Industrial average up nearly 340 points and putting the Standard & Poor's 500 index on track for its best month since 1974.
Wall Street stocks took another tumble Wednesday after a brief recovery as worries widened over the health of U.S. and European banks hit hard by debt crises on both sides of the Atlantic.
Stock indexes came back from deep losses in the morning and ended Wednesday with small gains. The Dow Jones industrial average avoided its longest losing streak since Jimmy Carter was president.
Stuck with a glacial pace of economic recovery and little likelihood that Congress will approve more stimulus, the White House has been resorting to some unconventional measures to try to boost growth.