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Wall Street rises amid upbeat job data, optimism on Europe

(Xinhua)

10:40, February 24, 2012

NEW YORK, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks reversed early losses and closed higher Thursday amid upbeat U.S. job data and good news from Europe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was just a few points away from the 13,000 level.

The Greek parliament on Thursday passed a bond swap plan with its private creditors, a vital move for the country to receive the second batch of bailout funds from international organizations.

The business climate index of Germany rose to 109.6 in February from 108.3 in January, the highest level in 8 months. The more-than-expected economic data boosted investors' confidence about the eurozone's largest economy.

However, the optimism was shadowed by the gloomy forecast for eurozone economic growth. The European Commission said the region's economy would shrink 0.3 percent in 2012, as the debt crisis impeded growth momentum.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department said initial jobless claims were unchanged at 351,000 last week, staying at the lowest level since 2008. The data suggested the U.S. labor market continue to improve.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said home prices climbed 0.7 percent in December after rising 1 percent in November, another sign that the U.S. economy was on its way up.

On earnings front, tech giant Hewlett-Packard posted an 18-percent decline in quarterly earnings, dragging its stocks down more than 6 percent.

The department store Kohl's also missed expectations, but expected its revenues to surge in this fiscal year. While Target topped expectations, boosted by strong holiday sales.

On corporate news, consumer goods company P&G said it will cut 4,100 jobs next year, part of its 10-billion-U.S.-dollar cost-cutting plans through 2016.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 46.02 points, or 0.36 percent, at 12,984.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 5.80 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,363.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 23.81 points, or 0.81 percent, to 2,956.98.

On other markets, the dollar fell as the euro rebounded on upbeat German data. Gold was slightly higher as risk-aversion appetite faded in markets, while the oil price closed at 9-month high, supported by weak dollar and fewer-than-expect U.S. crude inventory increase.

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