Nov 11 - Wall Street rallied to close higher for the week as European fears eased and a report showed U.S. consumer sentiment at a five-month high. MF Global terminates more than 1,000 employees. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Volatility remains on Wall Street, but this time it was to the upside, leaving all three major U.S. indices back in positive territory for the year. The gains were made amid signs Europe is getting its political act together. Senators in Italy approved austerity measures strongly urged by European neighbors, paving the way for full passage in coming days. And in Greece new prime minister Lucas Papademos and his cabinet were sworn in, with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos speaking to the press soon after. SOUNDBITE: FINANCE MINISTER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS (GREEK WITH ENGLISH TRANSLATION) SAYING "We have passed the difficult measures. The political cost has been taken. The Greek people know what they have to face in the coming year. New measures are not required, new cutbacks are not required, new sacrifices are not required, but we must implement all the current measures reliably and systematically." The latest read on U.S. shoppers also provided adrenaline for the bulls. Consumer sentiment jumped to a five-month high in early November as consumer optimism about the future offset continued worries about the present. The survey was welcomed news for retailers as the industry gets ready for the unofficial kick-off of the holiday shopping season. But there's grim news for more than 1,000 employees at MF Global's brokerage unit. They all were terminated due to MF Global's bankruptcy filing last week. Turning back to the markets - Wall Street rallied two percent for the best gains since late October. Despite this weeks twists and turns the Dow finished higher and the Nasdaq was flat for the week. In Friday action: stocks jumped 3.2 percent in Germany, 2.8 percent in France and 1.9 percent in the U.K. Conway Gittens, Reuters