Stocks Opened Sharply Higher on Euro Zone Hopes

U.S. stocks opened sharply higher on Wednesday, lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average back into positive territory for the year, on signs that European officials are urgently exploring ways to rescue Spain’s debt-stricken banks and on hopes of further stimulus from central banks to tackle the euro zone’s debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rallied 142.10 points, or 1.17%, to 12,270.05. The S&P 500 Index climbed 16.35 points, or 1.27%, to 1,301.85. The Nasdaq Composite rose 41.27 points, or 1.49%, to 2,819.38.

The European Central Bank has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged as it increases the pressure on eurozone governments to tackle the debt crisis that threatens the global economy.

Meanwhile, ECB President Mario Draghi pledged the central bank will act firmly and in a timely manner on inflation but added that inflation expectations for the euro area “continue to be firmly anchored” and “underlying price pressures continue to be subdued.”

The productivity of U.S. workers and businesses fell more sharply in the first quarter than originally estimated, as output was revised lower and hours worked rose slightly faster, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Productivity dropped 0.9% in the first three months of the year, compared to an initial estimate of a 0.5% decline.

Diageo Plc (LSE:DGE.L – News), the largest producer of Scotch whisky, is to invest over 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) in the drink over the next five years to meet growing demand from the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

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