NEW YORK (AP) - A jump in U.S. consumer confidence sent stocks modestly higher Tuesday. Investors were also encouraged by new efforts from European leaders to find more aggressive cures for the region's debt crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a gain of 32 points, following a 291-point surge Monday. Retail stocks were among the biggest gainers. Home Depot Inc. rose 5.3 percent. Best Buy Co. rose 5.1 percent. Retailers had record sales over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Stocks started higher and gained momentum after 10 a.m., when the Conference Board, a private research group, reported that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped in November to its highest level since July. That news and the surge in holiday shopping reassured investors that the U.S. economy might be sputtering back to life, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Financial.
"For the market, the fact that Americans are spending is a positive force," said Krosby.
European finance ministers gathered Tuesday to hash out the latest ideas for squelching the crisis. At their regular monthly meeting, the ministers also released the latest installment of emergency loans for Greece.
Europe's proposals for wriggling out of a potential financial catastrophe have become more radical as borrowing costs for the region's large economies, including Spain and Italy, spike. President Barack Obama said in a meeting with top EU officials Monday that if Europe failed to solve its crisis, the U.S. economy would suffer.