U.S. stocks rallied sharply on Thursday as investors grasped at the hope that the first positive signals out of Washington in weeks might translate into some kind of deal to avoid a U.S. default in as little as a week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a bellwether index of 30 major U.S. shares, rose more than 200 points on Thursday to just above 15,000 after House Republicans proposed a six-week extension of the debt limit. The idea is that the cooling off period would allow for discussion toward a more permamnent solution.

The House Republicans are expected to hold a press conference about 11 a.m., and later this afternoon their leaders are scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama at 435 p.m.

With the debt limit deadline a week away, there is a strong contingent of congressional Republicans and conservative policy shop analysts in Washington who deny that the United States will default if the debt ceiling is not raised.