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Stocks soar on signs of end to budget standoff

Stocks rose on Wall Street Thursday as Republican leaders and President Barack Obama finally seemed willing to end a 10-day budget standoff that has threatened to leave the US unable to pay its bills. Of the 500 stocks in the S&P 500 index, only 11 fell.

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Specialists look at screens at their post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday. Stocks rose following hopeful signs that a budget impasse in Washington may break soon.

Richard Drew/AP

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You can almost hear Wall Street exhaling.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 300 points Thursday after Republican leaders and President Barack Obama finally seemed willing to end a 10-day budget standoff that has threatened to leave the U.S. unable to pay its bills.

The news drove the Dow to its biggest point rise this year and ended a three-week funk in stocks. It also injected some calm into the frazzled market for short-term government debt.

Republican leaders said Thursday they would vote to extend the government's borrowing authority for six week. A spokesman for Obama said the president would "likely" sign a bill to increase the nation's ability to borrow money so it can continue paying its bills.

"Congressmen and women are coming to terms with how calamitous it would be if the debt ceiling was not raised," said Joseph Tanious, Global Market Strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "Cooler heads are prevailing."

The Dow jumped 323.09 points, or 2.2 percent, to close at 15,126.07.

Stocks have steadily declined since mid-September as Washington's gridlock got investors worried that the U.S. could default on its debt and wreak havoc on global financial markets. While traders applauded the deal between the White House and Congress, more volatility could be ahead if a deal falls through.

"We don't need some grand bargain, we just need to avoid a default," said Brian Reynolds of chief market strategist at Rosenblatt Securities. "Just don't bring us to the edge again."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 36.16 points, or 2.2 percent, to 1,692.56 and the Nasdaq composite rose 82.97 points, or 2.3 percent, to 3,760.75.

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