Stocks Surge at the Start on Europe Accord

U.S. stocks chalked up healthy gains at Thursday’s start as Wall Street echoed global markets in cheering Europe’s accord to expand a rescue fund to curb the region’s debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 232.12 points, or 1.96%, to 12,101.16. The S&P 500 Index added 29.20 points, or 2.35%, to 1,273.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 59.87 points, or 2.26%, to 2,710.54.

¬†Euro zone leaders struck a last-minute deal to limit the damage from the currency bloc’s debt crisis early on Thursday but are still far from finalizing plans to slash Greece’s debt burden and strengthen their rescue fund.

The economy grew at its fastest pace in a year in the third quarter as consumers and businesses stepped up spending, creating momentum that could carry into the final three months of the year. U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said in its first estimate on Thursday.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dipped slightly last week, though not by enough to suggest that hiring is picking up.Weekly applications for unemployment benefits declined 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 402,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Increased use of debit and credit cards throughout the world pushed Visa Inc.’s fiscal fourth-quarter profit up 14 percent. The San Francisco-based company said Wednesday that it earned $880 million, or $1.27 per share, for the three months that ended Sept. 30. That compared with $774 million, or $1.06 per share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 13 percent to $2.38 billion, up from $2.12 billion last year.

Exxon Mobil’s quarterly profit rose 41 percent as higher prices for oil and natural gas made up for lower production. Exxon earned $10.33 billion, or $2.13 per share, in the third quarter. That compared with $7.35 billion, or $1.44 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 32 percent to $125.3 billion.

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