Markets Post Biggest Gains of 2012

Doom and gloom are taking a breather today. In their place was the best day for the U.S. financial markets in 2012.

All the major indexes gained at least 2.3% on Thursday – a stark reversal from the 6% losses stocks collectively suffered in a miserable May.

The Nasdaq had the biggest day, gaining 2.4% in picking up another 66 points. The index has now gained nearly 100 points in its current three-day run.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a whopping 287 points, good for a 2.37% improvement. That was enough to bump the floundering index bag into the black for the year, giving it a net 1.6% gain in 2012. It was the first 200-point, one-day gain for the Dow in three months.

The S&P 500 was close behind, with a 2.3% jump.

Modestly optimistic news out of sovereign debt-plagued Europe was the main catalyst behind today’s big gains. Comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that markets are underestimating political leaders’ commitment to correcting the ongoing debt crisis were viewed as a monetary stimulus for the embattled eurozone may be forthcoming.

Like yesterday, financials were among the day’s biggest gainers. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), The Royal Bank of Scotland (NYSE: RBS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) were all up at least 5%. Morgan Stanley made the biggest move, gaining 8.4%. BAC gained 7.6%.

Among non-financials, embattled natural-gas giant Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) made one of the strongest moves, gaining 7.1%. Groupon (Nasdaq: GRPN) – another beaten-down stock – led the tech charge with an 8.6% improvement.

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