U.S. Stocks Gain on Consumer Spending

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U.S. stocks rose for the third time in four weeks, led by energy companies, as higher consumer spending and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to provide cash to banks spurred speculation the economy will keep expanding.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and Hess Corp. led energy companies to the biggest gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index after oil prices climbed for a second week. Earnings reports from Oracle Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. drove technology stocks to the second- steepest advance among 10 industries.

“You can just feel the tide turning here,” said Jim Paulsen, who helps oversee about $200 billion as chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis. “Economic data keeps coming in better than expected and I think it’s part of the recovery story.”

The S&P 500 added 16.51, or 1.1 percent to 1,484.46 this week, bringing its year-to-date advance to 4.7 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8 percent to 13,450.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 2.1 percent to 2,691.99. The Russell 2000 Index of small-company shares gained 4.2 percent.

Stock markets close at 1 p.m. New York time on Dec. 24 for the holiday and reopen at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.

Yields on 10-year Treasury notes lost 0.06 point to 4.17 percent, while two-year yields lost 0.11 point to 3.20 percent.

Shares gained after the European Central Bank injected a record $500 billion into the financial system to help the economy withstand a deteriorating housing market. The Fed said it will also conduct emergency auctions of loans as “long as necessary” to help restore faith in the money markets. [MORE]