Dow Ends Above 11,000 for 1st Time in 18 Months

Wall Street sign in the downtown financial district of New York, USA
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The Dow Jones industrial average has closed above 11,000 for the first time in a year and a half on investors' rising hopes about the economy.

The Dow edged up about 9 points Monday to almost 11,006. The Standard & Poor's 500 index came within a point of hitting its own milestone of 1,200 during trading but closed just short of that mark.

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A loan agreement for Greece allowed U.S. investors to focus on domestic economic and corporate news, including announcements of two big deals.

European leaders agreed over the weekend to make loans available to Greece to help the country lower its public debt burden. The 16 countries that use the euro agreed to provide $40.5 billion in loans to Greece if needed. The International Monetary Fund could contribute another $13.5 billion.

The details helped to ease worries that have been one of the few drags on stocks so far this year. There has been concerns in recent months that mounting debt in Greece and other European nations like Spain and Portugal would stunt an economic recovery in Europe and undermine Europe's shared currency, the euro.

"This is clearly a positive development that the EU is identifying and dealing with what has really been it's first real challenge," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist for RidgeWorth Investments.

Meanwhile, the latest round of corporate dealmaking signaled that business leaders are more confident about a recovery.

Mirant Corp. agreed to acquire rival power company Reliant Energy Inc. for $1.61 billion, while the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management is buying DynCorp International, a provider of support services to U.S. national security operations, for $1 billion.

The reports on Greece and the corporate buyouts raised expectations that the economy is recovering. Hopes of a rebound have been driving the stock market higher for 13 months. The advance since February has been more incremental but the gains have still left major stock indexes at their best levels in about 18 months.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 8.62, or 0.1 percent, to 11,005.97. The S&P 500 index rose 2.11, or 0.2 percent, to 1,196.48. It traded has high as 1,199.20. It hasn't topped 1,200 since September 2008.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.82, or 0.2 percent, to 2,457.87.