By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks rallied on Friday, reclaiming weekly gains and pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a nearly three-month high, as investors anticipated central-bank moves in Europe as well as by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Stocks hit session highs after Bloomberg News reported European Central Bank President Mario Draghi would hold talks with Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann in an attempt to remove the biggest obstacles to adopting new measures including bond purchases.
"Between Draghi's comments and the GDP numbers today, we're bid up on prospects of monetary intervention," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
After a 229-point rise, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was lately up 179.25 points, or 1.4%, to 13,065.89, its first intraday rise above 13,000 since May 8.
Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) led the gains that included all but three of its 30 components.
Merck shares rallied 3.8% after the pharmaceutical company's earnings topped forecasts.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) added 23.03 points, or 1.7%, to 1,383.05, with health care and industrials the best performing of its 10 major industry sectors.
Amgen Inc. (AMGN) gained 4.7% after the biotechnology company raised its 2012 outlook and reported second-quarter profit that exceeded analysts' estimates.
The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) gained 55.48 points, or 1.9%, to 2,948.71.
Facebook Inc. (FB) shares slid 12% after the social-networking site offered little reassurance to investors concerned about its lofty valuation.
For every stock declining, five gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 491 million shares were exchanged as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Global equities gained after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said they were committed to keeping the euro area together. French newspaper Le Monde reported the European Central Bank was readying to purchase debt.
The major stock indexes held gains after a gauge of consumer sentiment came in just above expectations, as did a separate report on U.S. economic growth in the second quarter. .
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 27, 2012 14:36 ET (18:36 GMT)
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