U.S. stocks rose to their highest in more than two months on Friday before a weekend European Union debt-crisis summit that could potentially remove a major headwind for markets and allow investors to focus on corporate results.
Obstacles remain to resolving the crisis, and important differences still separate major players France and Germany, but investors apparently took it as a positive that their leaders have set a target date of Wednesday for finding a solution.
It's that hope, it's that anticipation that they have created, said Rob Russell, president of Russell & Company in Dayton, Ohio.
The French and the Germans both have a lot to risk. They both have somewhat different ideas they are going to have to have some kind of solution.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 194.59 points, or 1.69 percent, to 11,736.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX><.INX> climbed 18.52 points, or 1.52 percent, to 1,233.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 36.98 points, or 1.42 percent, to 2,635.60.
Recent gains have pushed the S&P 500 to the top end of its trading range between 1,230 and 1,250 where it has struggled to advance. Many investors are looking for progress in Europe before looking to earnings to push equities higher.
France's push to use more European Central Bank money to fight the euro zone debt crisis ran into strong resistance from Germany and other EU partners. For details, see
Equity markets have been susceptible to wild swings in recent weeks as traders latch on to varying headlines on Europe's debt crisis, leaving markets prone to volatility heading into the weekend.
Consumer discretionary stocks were the best performing among S&P sectors after McDonald's Corp
Shares of the fast-food restaurant chain rose 2.9 percent to $91.55. The S&P consumer discretionary sector <.GSPD> gained 2.3 percent.
Among industrial companies, Honeywell International Inc
General Electric Co's
According to Thomson Reuters data, of the 133 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Friday, 68 percent have topped analysts' expectations.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)