Stocks Posted Third Straight Day of Gains

U.S. stocks logged gains by the close of trading Monday following signs that the European financial crisis may be contained. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 76.02 points, or 0.63%, at 12,080.38. The S&P 500 Index gained 6.86 points, or 0.54%, to close at 1,278.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended the day up 13.18 points, or 0.50%, at 2,629.66.

European officials delayed the final decision for releasing the next $16.8 billion tranche of a $155 billion aid package until Greece has implemented further austerity measures. Market observers were hoping the tranche would be immediately released over the weekend and markets had gained at times last week on optimism for quick action. That next installment is key to preventing debt default in Greece.

The Federal Open Market Committee, which on Tuesday starts a two-day meeting, is widely expected to make the formal decision to end the current program of buying $600 billion of Treasury securities on June 30. It is also expected to maintain its existing policy to reinvest principal payments from maturing securities to not let its balance sheet shrink, and to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at between 0% and 0.25%.

Oil leveled off Monday with investors still concerned about the European financial crisis. Benchmark crude for July delivery gained 25 cents to settle at $93.26 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

A massive sex-discrimination class-action lawsuit cannot move forward against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the Supreme Court said in a Monday decision that legal observers expect to have wide-ranging ramifications.

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