Stocks rose sharply Thursday after Ireland moved closer to addressing its debt crisis, better-than-expected economic data suggested the recovery is accelerating and General Motors (GM) returned to the New York Stock Exchange (NYX) with a massive initial public offering.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) jumped 173 points, or 1.6%, to close at 11,181, clawing back most of its nearly 200-point loss since Monday. The broader S&P 500 ($INX) rose 18 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 1,197. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) leaped 38 points, or 1.6%, to close at $2,514 . Thursday marked the biggest single day of gains for the Dow and the S&P 500 since Nov. 4

Increasing confidence that Ireland will accept some sort of rescue package from the European Union and International Monetary fund lifted the euro at the expense of the dollar. As has been the correlation for months, a falling dollar boosted stocks and commodities -- a reversal of the two-week trend that's sliced 400 points off the Dow since early November.

Intel as the Rare Downer

The U.S. Dollar index, which measures the greenback against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, slid another 0.6%. The hardest-hit sectors earlier in the week were Thursday's biggest gainers on the falling dollar. Basic materials led all sectors, while capital goods and energy stocks were also robust. Aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar (CAT) were among the blue-chip average's best performers. Intel (INTC) was the only one of the 30 Dow stocks to close lower.

A couple of key economic releases helped the bulls Thursday. Manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia surged to its highest level in nearly two years. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional outlook showed strong gains in new orders, shipments and price increases, as its Philly Fed index jumped to 22.5 in November from 1 in October, the highest reading since December 2009. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected the index to rise to just 5.6 in November.

Separately, the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators -- a gauge of future economic activity -- suggested the economy could see a "mild pickup" this spring. October's reading rose 0.5%, and September's index was revised up from the initial estimate of 0.3% to 0.5%.

A Good First Day for GM

Adding to the buoyant mood was General Motors (GM) historic return to the stock market Thursday with what's shaping up to be the largest initial public offering in history. After a two-year odyssey that brought the iconic automaker through bailout and a return from bankruptcy, GM sold about 478 million shares for $33 a share, raising at least $18 billion Thursday.

Throw in the value of preferred shares and other options, and the IPO is likely to reap a global record of at least $22.7 billion. GM returned return to the New York Stock Exchange (NYX) under its old ticker, GM. Shares gained 3.2% to close at $34.05 on their first day of trading.

The dollars slide also reversed the recent tumble in commodities. Gold for December delivery rose $15.30, or 1.1%, to settle at $1,352 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange (CME). Oil for December delivery rose $1.63, or 2%, to close at $82.07 a barrel on the Comex.

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olearb382

Our government should never have to bail out these companies with taxpayer money for any reason. The culprits are the management officals who took out millions in benefits cand salaries plus the unionized workers who were "living the life of Riley." Again we could not afford to lose American car companies. Solution is to control excessive salaries and benefits. Ex. I have a brother-in-law who worked for GM. He got tremendous benefits plus was paid time and 1/2, double time and triple time for holidays. Now retired he just got a expensive hearing aid and he said he can get another after 3 yrs- all pd for in his retirement package. How about the big shots who gave themselves multi million dollar bonuses at Viks Drugs and K-Mart and then both companies went bankrupt for lack of funds. One reason Wal-Mart is so successful is the way it is run by honest personnel.

November 19 2010 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hhg65

The republicans have been stroking the riches's dicks and getting paybacks. Why do you think they would pimp out themselves for the tax cut for the rich?

November 19 2010 at 4:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
hhg65

Thanks to Obama, we now are in a better situation than it could have been without him. Republicans are just too stupid and retarded to understand it!

November 19 2010 at 4:06 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
AL CONFER

Nice to know that only the filthy rich got to bid on the IPO and the lowly citizen only gets the taxes that bailed out this company because of bad management. Only big investors that bought mega shares got to bid on this stock. Nice to know we the little people are only good enough to pay for the ultra rich. Shame on Wall Street and the banks.

November 18 2010 at 9:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
kmills1019

More republicans praying for America to fail.

November 18 2010 at 9:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
vhcon

So how Much do you think Obama will put into the International Monetary fund of OUR MONEY. The European Union loans each other money to make the weakest look better but it all smoke and mirros.

November 18 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to vhcon's comment
caddopecan

Obamaworld is a sink hole. If you do good, exceed or are successful, Obama will suck it down the drain.

November 18 2010 at 9:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hhg65

How much blood do you think the republicans will want to suck out the poor before they think it is enough for them?

November 19 2010 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fasteddie

Strange enough...The creation of the G7,G20, and the EURO has become the fail of the Global market. The EURO has started the domino effect. Barry want his pic on the New World moola.

November 18 2010 at 9:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
fasteddie

GM is the epitome of the socialist fantasy..Who's next? GE seems to have a pretty good grasp as well. And the Left-wangers thought Dubya was in bed with Corporate America. Barry Soetoro and George Soros are filth.

November 18 2010 at 8:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
fasteddie

Tax exempt status is a good thing...

November 18 2010 at 8:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ralachambers

How about the 44 BILLION DOLLAR tax credit Obama gave GM earlier this month. None of the liberal news has said anything about that. Any company can make a profit when not having to pay taxes for roughly 3 to 3 1/2 years. Its easy to make your policy look good when you can make the rules/ or there are no rules.

November 18 2010 at 8:48 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply