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Stocks close higher after downgrades fail to squelch demand for European debt
Stocks are closing higher after positive signs about Europe's debt markets and China's growth eased fears of a global economic slowdown.
Debt auctions by Spain, Greece and Europe's bailout fund drew solid interest from bond investors, easing fears that recent rating downgrades would prevent them from obtaining funds and escalate the debt crisis.
The Chinese government said its economy slowed less dramatically in the fourth quarter than analysts had expected.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 60 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,482. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 5, or 0.4 percent, at 1,294. The Nasdaq closed up 17, or 0.6 percent, at 2,728.
About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light at 3.85 billion shares.