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The stock market, which has been marching higher for a week, got extra fuel Thursday after the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank will keep supporting the economy.
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.
On the day before the U.S. presidential election, stock indexes managed slight gains in thin trading.
Investors spent Tuesday preparing for two events sure to move markets this week: a Federal Reserve meeting and a court decision on whether Germany can help support its struggling neighbors. And if the stock market's gains Tuesday are any sign, they expect both events to turn out well.
Stocks closed lower for the seventh day out of the last eight on Monday after the government reported that U.S. consumers cut their spending last month.
Calm returned to the stock market Monday after a spasm of fearful selling last week. Major indexes closed mixed after trading modestly lower for most of the day.
Stocks tumbled Thursday after two disappointing economic reports renewed investors' concerns about the pace of the recovery.