Written by: Tim Paradis
Posted by: Connie Yee
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street got the news it wanted on the economy's biggest problems -- banks and housing -- and celebrated by hurtling the Dow Jones industrials up nearly 500 points. Investors added rocket fuel Monday to a two-week-old advance, cheering the government's plan to help banks remove bad assets from their books and also welcoming a report showing a surprising increase in home sales. Major stock indicators surged more than 6 percent, including the Dow, which had its biggest percentage gain since October.
Although analysts were still hesitant to say Wall Street is squarely on its way to recovery after the collapse that began last fall, they said the banking and housing news bolstered the belief that the economy is starting to heal.
"It's just hard to argue that there isn't an improvement in economic activity on the horizon," said Jim Dunigan, executive vice president at PNC Wealth Management.
The market began turning around two weeks ago on news that Citigroup Inc. was operating at a profit in January and February. A spate of more upbeat economic reports helped the market build on its gains, although the rally stalled last Thursday and Friday.
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