The rally was broad: All 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average and all 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index made gains.
Major indexes started higher at the opening of trading, putting the market on track for solid gains. Around midday, Bloomberg reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be willing to release more money from Greece’s bailout fund if the Greek government commits to at least one move to tighten its budget. Without a deal by the end of the month, Greece faces the prospect of going bankrupt and dropping the euro.
The stock market surged after the news broke and held most of its gains until the closing bell.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 25.05 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 2,105.20. It was the best day for the broad-market benchmark in a month.
The Dow Jones industrial average rallied 236.36 points, or 1.3 percent, to 18,000.40, while the Nasdaq composite gained 62.82 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,076.69.
U.S. government bond prices continued to slide. The drop nudged the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to another high for the year, 2.49 percent. In late trading the yield was 2.48 percent. Long-term interest rates have surged in recent months as the economy shows signs of shaking off its winter slump.
Major markets in Europe finished with solid gains Wednesday. Germany’s DAX jumped 2.4 percent, while France’s CAC-40 closed with a gain of 1.7 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares added 1.1 percent.
The yen jumped against the dollar after the head of the Bank of Japan said the country’s currency was unlikely to continue its slump. The dollar fell 1.4 percent to 122.64 yen.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent, and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.1 percent lower.
Back in the U.S., Netflix’s stock soared to a new high after shareholders cleared the way for the company to split its stock. Netflix rose $23.95, or 4 percent, to $671.10.
An announcement by Johnson Controls, an industrial parts supplier, that it was considering splitting off its automotive business propelled the company’s stock higher. Johnson Controls gained $2.03, or 4 percent, to $53.59.
In the commodity markets, precious and industrial metals futures settled slightly higher. Gold rose $9 to $1,186.60 an ounce, while silver was unchanged at $15.96 an ounce. Copper picked up 3 cents to close at $2.75 a pound.
The price of oil closed at its highest level since December after the Energy Department’s weekly supply report showed a surprisingly big drop in crude inventories along with rising demand for gasoline.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.29 to close at $61.43 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil used by many U.S. refineries, rose 82 cents to close at $65.70 a barrel in London.
In other futures trading:
- Wholesale gasoline rose 6.9 cents to close at $2.146 a gallon.
- Heating oil rose 2.8 cents to close at $1.946 a gallon.
- Natural gas rose 4.5 cents to close at $2.891 per 1,000 cubic feet.