- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NEW YORK — Stocks are closing sharply higher on reports that Germany and France are moving closer to resolving the European debt crisis.

The Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday that France and Germany have agreed to expand a rescue fund. European officials are expected to take up the expansion along with other measures at a meeting this weekend.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 180 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 11,577.

The S&P 500 index rose 25 points, or 2 percent, to 1,225. Bank stocks were among the strongest performers.

The Nasdaq composite rose 43 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,657.

More than five stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was higher than average at 4.9 billion shares.

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