FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

The markets posted big gains this week as traders grew more optimistic about the chance of lawmakers averting the fiscal cliff. On Friday, traders also responded positively to upbeat Asian and European economic and political news.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 173 points, or 1.4%, to 13010, the S&P 500 gained 18.1 points, or 1.3%, to 1409 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 40.3 points, or 1.4%, to 2967.

For the week, the Dow jumped 3.3%, the S&P 500 rallied 3.6% and the Nasdaq soared 4%. The Dow ended above the psychologically important 13000 mark for the first time since November 6. Every major sector posted gains for the week besides utilities, which fell less than 1%. The biggest gainers could be found in the industrial, consumer discretionary, telecommunications, and materials sectors. 

A round of upbeat news from Europe helped to boost sentiment on Friday. A closely-watched survey from the Ifo Institute showed business confidence in Germany unexpectedly increasing after six-straight declines in November. 

The European Council, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, a group often called the Troika, said it made "good progress" on talks aimed at creating a rescue program for Cyprus. The country is the latest to struggle with debt issues that put it at risk of being locked out of private markets.

Standard & Poor's also affirmed its rating on France at AA+ and said its outlook remains negative on the country. 

"The affirmation reflects our opinion that the French government remains committed to budgetary and structural reforms that would build on the measures it has proposed so far and improve the country's growth potential," the ratings company said in a statement. 

This comes after Moody's Investors Service sliced France's credit rating from Aaa to Aa1 on Monday, citing economic and political headwinds the country is facing. 

On the Asian front, a reading of HSBC's flash PMI gauge Wednesday night showed China's manufacturing sector revved up into expansion territory for the first time in 13 months. 

"This confirms that the economic recovery continues to gain momentum towards the year end," Hongbin Qu, the bank's chief economist for China said in a report. "However, it is still the early stage of recovery and global economic growth remains fragile."

Energy futures were broadly in the green. The benchmark oil contract traded in New York jumped 94 cents, or 1.1%, to $88.33 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.09% to $2.752 a gallon. Gold rallied $22.70, or 1.3%, to $1,751 a troy ounce. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 gained 0.87% to 2557, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.49% to 5819 and the German DAX gained 0.89% to 7309. 

In Asia, the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 0.79% to 21914. The markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

 

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.