Stocks extended their recent rally on Wednesday, with the Dow industrials back in positive territory for the year as the euro-zone rescue fund was set to get approval from all EU members.
Momentum buying, or a move back into equities after the broader S&P 500 closed on Tuesday its largest six-day rally since March 2009, was also cited as boosting U.S. stocks.
Slovakian lawmakers struck a deal to ratify more powers for the euro zone's rescue fund, known as the EFSF, effectively ending a crisis that threatens the euro's survival and which has weighed on equities and other risky assets for months.
Slovakia is the last country in the 17-member currency zone left to approve the revamped EFSF.
Bank shares led the advance again, with the KBW Bank Index <.BKX> up 3.9 percent. Citigroup
Europeans feel very comfortable that a plan has been put in place with respect to their banks and Greece, and the EFSF is going to solve the problem for now, said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
The S&P 500 traded above 1,200 for the first time in three weeks, taking the benchmark near the upper end of a range it has been stuck at since early August. The index rose more than 13 percent from the 2011 low hit last week, and some market participants say the steep rally has triggered more buying of equities, as traders try to catch up in performance.
No one was there for the rally because people were under-invested, Boockvar said. We're getting close to the upper end of the range so I don't know how much of it is left, but I would not be surprised if we overshot on the upside.
The S&P 500 has been trading roughly between 1,080 and 1,220 for two months.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 155 points, or 1.37 percent, to 11,571.30. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 19.92 points, or 1.67 percent, to 1,215.46. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 38.38 points, or 1.49 percent, to 2,621.42.
Liz Claiborne Inc
Later in the session, investors will also keep an eye on the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes from its September 20-21 meeting, to be released at 2 p.m. EDT.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Jan Paschal)