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Benchmarks rocketed more than 2% after Democrats and Republicans showed some sign of progress on the debt ceiling impasse. The S&P 500 logged its best day in more than nine months. However, the partial government shutdown continues. Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits touched a six-month high. A huge increase in initial claims was primarily due to technical problems arising from California’s computer upgrade and the partial shutdown. All ten sectors of the S&P 500 industry groups finished in the green with financial and industrial sectors gaining the most.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 2.2% to close the day at 15126.07. The S&P 500 rose 2.2% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1692.56. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 2.3% to end at 3760.75. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) tumbled 16.0% to settle at 16.48. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.32 billion shares, lower than 2013’s average of 6.1 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For 84% shares that advanced, only 14% declined. 

Major indices have declined gradually after mid-September as political altercations in Washington increased investor tensions about a potential U.S. default. But yesterday both Republicans and Democrats showed indications that they were willing to work together to save the nation from default. In order to save the U.S. from credit default, lawmakers will have to increase $16.7 trillion debt limit by October 17.The Dow Jones rallied more than 300 points, its biggest increase of 2013. The CBOE Volatility Index, generally considered to be the investor fear gauge tumbled nearly 16%.                
 
On Thursday, Republicans leaders said they would vote to raise the country’s debt limit for six weeks. A spokesman for President Barack Obama said that the president will possibly sign a bill to raise the country’s borrowing limit. Fifteen minutes before the closing bell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats will not hold discussions with Republicans until partial government shutdown is lifted. However, Harry Reid’s discouraging comments didn’t affect yesterday’s trading session.          
 
On the home front, the U.S. Department of Labor reported initial claims numbers. According to the report, initial claims increased 66,000 to 374,000 from previous week’s figure of 308,000. This was considerably above the consensus estimate of 324,000. Nearly half of the increase in initial claims was primarily due to technical problems resulting from California’s computer upgrade. On the other hand, 15,000 claims were due to the partial government shutdown. But recent trends in initial claims numbers have shown a steady improvement in labor market.    
           
The financial sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) gained 2.9%. Stocks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), PNC Financial Services Group Inc (NYSE:PNC) added 3.5%, 2.8%, 2.8%, 3.4% and 3.1%, respectively.
 
Industrial stocks also had a good day and the Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) gained 2.6%. Stocks such as General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON), Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) and Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) gained 2.9%, 3.0%, 3.9%, 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively.

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