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By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
Topic - Lawrence Creatura
The stock market crept higher in midday trading Thursday, one day after the Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest gain in more than a year.
Investors drew little hope Wednesday for a quick compromise in U.S. budget talks after President Obama insisted that higher taxes on wealthy Americans would have to be part of any deal.
It was the buy signal that markets were waiting for. When European Central Bank president Mario Draghi vowed to "do whatever it takes" to keep the continent's monetary union intact, stocks were off to races in the U.S. and Europe.
Fear that Spain may need a bailout sent its borrowing costs soaring, the euro to a two-year low against the dollar and stocks around the world tumbling as investors pulled back Monday from all manner of risk.
Strong earnings from IBM and other technology companies nudged the stock market higher Thursday, but a trio of weak economic reports kept the gains in check.
Stocks fell Thursday for the third day in a row as investors were daunted by reminders that Europe has not solved its debt crisis and the U.S. economy is far from healed, despite progress on both fronts.
A drop in the unemployment rate to its lowest in three years propelled the Dow Jones industrial average Friday to its highest close since before the 2008 financial crisis. The Nasdaq composite index hit an 11-year high.
An unexpected jump in claims for unemployment benefits and plummeting oil prices drove stocks lower early Thursday.
"It's natural to relax a bit after such a huge day as yesterday," said Lawrence Creatura, who manages a small-company fund at Federated Investors.
"We're off to a very strong start," Mr. Creatura said. "The dominant reason is the resolution of the fiscal cliff. But January is usually a strong month, as investors all shift money into the market at the same time. When the calendar flips, it's as if you're allowed the begin the race anew."