Stocks rose Wednesday on Wall Street after U.S. corporate earnings reports got off to a good start.
It may be a big if, but assuming Washington lawmakers can get past the "fiscal cliff," many analysts say that the outlook for stocks next year is good, as a recovering housing market and an improving jobs outlook helps the economy maintain a slow, but steady recovery.
Stocks ended the day little changed Wednesday after a rally prompted by the Federal Reserve's latest economic stimulus program fizzled out.
Nobody was expecting this round of corporate earnings reports to be great. But companies' underwhelming results are still rattling investors.
Poor corporate earnings reports pounded the stock market Friday in a sour end to an otherwise strong week of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points for its worst day in four months.
U.S. employers advertised slightly fewer jobs in August than in July, while they filled the most positions in three months, offering a mixed signal on the job market.
Stocks notched their first gain of the week Thursday after Spain announced severe budget cuts intended to convince the world that it can meet deficit-reduction targets.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg's talk of Facebook's mobile prospects and his acknowledgment that the company cares about making money as well as making the world "more open and connected" lifted the battered shares of the social networking icon on Wednesday.
The last time the stock market was this high, the Great Recession had just started, and stocks were pointed toward a headlong descent. But on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average hit its highest mark since December 2007, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index soared to its highest level since January 2008.