US Stocks Leap On First Day Of New Year

By: AP
By: AP
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NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market got a big jump on a better year.

Investors sent stocks higher on the first trading day of 2012 following encouraging economic reports from the U.S. and around the world.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 180 points, or 1.5 percent, at 12,397 Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 19 points, or 1.6 percent, at 1,277 and the Nasdaq rose 44, 1.7 percent, to 2,649.

Investors seized on the latest signs of strength in the U.S. economy: an expansion of manufacturing in December at the fastest rate in six months and an increase in construction spending in November.

There was also hope from Europe's largest economy, Germany, which reported that the average number of people unemployed there last year was the lowest in two decades.

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