Wall Street Posts Comeback Rally

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The markets shifted into rally mode as traders scooped up bargains following the steepest weekly retreat since November.

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Today's Markets

As of 2:50 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 98.6 points, or 0.79%, to 12467, the S&P 500 gained 16.4 points, or 1.3%, to 1312 and the Nasdaq Composite soared 57.1 points, or 2.1%, to 2836.

The S&P 500 tumbled 4.3% last week -- the third straight week of losses for the broad-market index. The Nasdaq suffered more, skidding 5.3% to the downside.

Some of the sectors that performed the worst last week outperformed on the day. The industrial sector had the biggest gains, followed by basic materials, technology and financial stocks. The weakest performers were traditional defensive sectors like utilities and consumer staples.

There were five trades in advancing shares for each in a declining stock on the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, traders shed the safety of U.S. debt in search of higher yielding investments. The yield on the 10-year rose 0.022-percentage point to 1.747%.

Europe Still in Focus

One main driver has been the debt crisis in Europe. In particular, the growing probability that Greece will be forced to leave the eurozone as it grapples with painful austerity measures has rattled traders' confidence in the 17-member currency bloc.

At the Group of 8 meeting over the weekend, leaders representing some of the world's biggest economies agreed that economic growth, balanced by fiscal discipline, is an important goal. They also expressed their interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone. That shifted the focus somewhat off of the austerity that has weighed severely on many world economies -- especially those in the beleaguered eurozone.

The heads of state "made all the right noises," said Yusuf Heusen, a sales trader at IG Index in London. He cautioned, however, that "we've seen all of this before."

Many world markets kicked off the week on a positive note. The English FTSE 100 was up 0.7%, while the Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks eurozone blue chips, climbed 0.26%. Market participants struck a generally cautious tone, with no particular resolution coming from Greece ahead of elections there, and continued uncertainty about the state of the world's economy.

"There's a feeling that (the selling) went far enough last week," Heusen said. "The markets are almost in limbo at the moment."

In corporate news, shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) tumbled 12% in their second day of trading, falling far below their issue price of $38 a share. Eaton (NYSE:ETN) unveiled plans to scoop up electrical parts supplier Cooper Industries (NYSE:CBE)  for $11.8 billion.

Commodities were mixed on the day. The June crude oil contract jumped $1.13, or 1.2%, to $92.61 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline gained 1.8% to $2.94 a gallon.

In metals, gold slumped $1.60, or 0.1%, to $1,590 a troy once.

Foreign Markets 

Eurozone blue chips gained 0.26%, the English FTSE 100 climbed 0.7% to 5304 and the German DAX rallied 0.95% to 6331.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 drifted higher by 0.26% to 8634 and the Chinese Hang Seng dipped 0.16% to 18922.