NEW YORK – A late rally pushed the Dow Jones industrial average back above 12,000 Monday as investors responded to the latest twists in Europe's efforts to control its debt crisis.
U.S. indexes were down for much of the day on worries that Italy could become the next country to run into trouble. Stocks turned higher after 2 p.m. Eastern on news that Greece would receive the latest installment of emergency aid as long as the country's two main parties commit to implementing economic reforms agreed to by the country's previous government.
Investors again reacted to whatever was the latest headline out of Europe. The region's problems have been offsetting optimism about strong corporate earnings in the U.S. and signs of improvement in the economy.
"Every day it seems like it's the butting of heads between whatever the latest rumor is out of Europe with good economic data and corporate earnings," said Karyn Cavanaugh, a market strategist with ING Investment Management. "It's overshadowing the fact that earnings are on track to be the best year ever."
The Dow rose 85.15 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 12,068.39. The Dow closed near its highest point of the day and had been down as many as 102 points shortly after midday. Hewlett-Packard Co. rose 3.4 percent, the most of the 30 stocks in the Dow.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.89, or 0.6 percent, to 1,261.12. Last week the S&P had its first down week since September. The Nasdaq rose 9.10, or 0.3 percent, to 2,695.25.
Worries that Italy could become the next victim of Europe's debt crisis kept investors uneasy.
Italy's borrowing rates spiked Monday to the highest level since the country adopted the euro. Unlike Greece, Portugal or Ireland — all of which received financial lifelines — Italy has too much debt to be rescued by its European neighbors. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has rejected suggestions that he resign to make way for more cost-cutting.
In Greece, the two main political parties agreed over the weekend to share power in a new government after George Papandreou said he would step aside as prime minister. European finance officials agreed to release the next slice of bailout money to Greece as long as leaders of the parties agree in writing to carry out austerity measures required by international lenders.
The payment has been delayed by two months and is needed to avoid a potentially disastrous default on the country's debt, which would roil financial markets and cause losses for European banks.
The worries over Europe's debt problems lifted the prices of assets seen as safe havens. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.01 percent from 2.04 percent late Friday. Bond yields fall when their prices rise, reflecting an increase in demand. Gold rose 2 percent.
In corporate news:
— Amgen Inc. rose 5.9 percent to $58.43, the most in the S&P 500 index, after the biotech drugmaker said it would buy back up to $5 billion of its stock.
— Dish Network Corp. rose 5 percent to $24.66 after the satellite TV provider announced a special $2 per share dividend and a 30 percent increase in net income.
— Home Depot Inc. rose 2.6 percent to $37.34 after getting upgraded by analysts.
Rising stocks slightly outnumbered falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was lighter than average at 3.4 billion shares.