Global stocks enjoyed one of their best sessions in weeks Monday as further proposals to get a grip on Europe's debt crisis were touted amid signs that the U.S. Christmas shopping season has started off strongly.
The advance came despite denials that the International Monetary Fund is readying a euro600 billion ($794 billion) rescue package for Italy and that the eurozone's six triple-A rated countries are preparing to float bonds together and use the proceeds to provide assistance to some of the single currency bloc's indebted members, such as Italy and Spain.
Investors are clearly hoping that the recent signs of deterioration in the debt crisis will finally get Europe's leaders to agree on a package of measures that can ease market concerns over whether the euro currency itself can survive. Anecdotal evidence that the U.S. enjoyed a strong day for retailing on Friday after Thanksgiving Day has eased concerns that the world's largest economy will slide back into recession.
"It's an impressive start to the week by any measure, and the hope among investors now is that we get some concrete progress from European leaders in the days ahead," said Ben Critchley, a sales trader at IG Index.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 2.9 percent at 5,312.76, while Germany's DAX rose 4.6 percent to 5,745.33. The CAC-40 in France ended 5.5 percent higher at 3,012.93.
The euro, meanwhile, was 0.4 percent higher at $1.3334.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was 2.7 percent higher at 11,541, while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.1 percent to 1,195.
President Barack Obama is hosting European Union leaders for a summit in Washington on Monday and he is expected to express concern to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that their region's crisis could damage the U.S. economy.
Many in the markets think that the euro project, as currently designed, is at a crucial turning point. With more and more governments finding it prohibitively expensive to borrow money to finance their debts, there's a groundswell of opinion that says the euro's days are numbered. Belgium, Italy and France all have big bond issues this week. More failures on that front following last week's disappointing auction from Germany could stoke further turmoil.
Credit rating agency Moody's issued a similar warning Monday. It said the "rapid escalation" of Europe's financial crisis is threatening the creditworthiness of all eurozone governments, even the most highly rated. Only six of the eurozone's 17 countries have the top rating _ Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Finland.
And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said policy makers around the world must "be prepared to face the worst," as the economic impact of Europe's debt crisis threatens to spread around the developed world.
The Paris-based OECD says in its latest Economic Outlook that continued failure by EU leaders to stem the debt crisis that has spread from Greece to much-bigger Italy "could massively escalate economic disruption" and end in "highly devastating outcomes."
The biannual report released Monday recommends urgently boosting the EU bailout fund and calls on Europe's central bank to do more to stem the crisis.
Oil prices tracked equities higher, too. Benchmark crude for January delivery was up $1.50 to $98.27 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.
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