Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he will step down as soon as Italy's parliament passes a tough budget designed to keep the nation in line with measures mandated by European Union leaders. Italy, the EU's third-largest economy, was seen as fast slipping toward a mess reminiscent of Greece's, but swift action gave investors hope the European dominoes are not falling. Financial commentators worldwide also likely cheered a reprieve from beginning stories with a reference to Greece.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.84 percent, or 101.79 points, to 12,170.18; the Nasdaq was up 1.20 percent, or 32.24 points, to 2,727.49; the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 1.17 percent, or 14.80 points, to 1,275.92; the NYSE composite was up 1.13 percent, or 85.47 points, to 7,675.90; and the AMEX composite was up 1.36 percent, or 31.37 points, to 2,343.24.
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Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ) plans to sell Palm's webOS operating system, which is considered valuable primarily for its patents. Shares were down 0.11 percent, or $0.03, to $27.88.
Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) reported a very down quarter exacerbated by natural disasters in Japan and now Thailand, where Toyota has manufacturing facilities. Shares were down 1.36 percent, or $0.89, to $64.60.
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Italy's news was good for big European banks. Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) was up 2.92 percent, or $1.15, to $40.55. Barclay's Plc. (NYSE:BCS) was up 2.94 percent, or $0.34, to $12.07. UBS AG (NYSE:UBS) was up 2.82 percent, or $0.35, to $12.77.
Commodities and Currencies
Oil was up 1.48 percent, or $1.41, to $96.93 per barrel. Gold was down 0.26 percent, or $4.60, to $1,785.70 per ounce.
The euro gained 0.0071 against the U.S. dollar to 1.3841. The dollar lost 0.3810 against the Japanese yen to 77.7000. The British pound gained 0.0048 against the dollar to 1.6103.
Britain's FTSE was up 1.03 percent, or 56.52 points, to 5,567.34; Germany's DAX was up 0.55 percent, or 32.76 points, to 5,961.44; and France's CAC 40 was up 1.28 percent, or 39.70 points, to 3,143.30. Oh, by the way, the FTSE MIB, Italy's main index, was up 0.74 percent, or 115.12 points, to 15,664.06.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was virtually unchanged up 0.58 points to 19,678.47; Singapore's Straits Times was up 0.64 percent, or 18.28 points, to 2,866.52; and China's Shanghai Composite was down 0.24 percent, or 5.96 points, to 2,503.84.
Once again, specialty eateries was the top industry, up 5.98 percent. Caribou Coffee Co. Inc. (Nasdaq:CBOU) was up 0.49 percent, or $0.07, to $14.41.
Once again, regional mid-Atlantic banks were the worst-performing industry, down 4.74 percent. Carrolton Bancorp (Nasdaq:CRRB) was down 11.92 percent, or $0.31, to $2.29.
Best and Worst
Spanish Broadcasting Systems Inc. (Nasdaq:SBSA) was up 102.03 percent, or $1.51, to $2.99.
Targacept Inc. (Nasdaq:TRGT) was down 60.20 percent, or $11.51, to $7.61. The company reported a drug test failure.