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Mario Draghi

Stocks advance in solid start to December trading

Stocks started off December on a strong note, helped by improving economic data from Japan and Europe as well as hopes that the European Central Bank will expand its stimulus program. Trading remained relatively quiet ahead of the release later this week of the U.S. government's monthly jobs survey and a Federal Reserve meeting later this month.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 168.43 points, or 1 percent, to 17,888.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22.22 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,102.63 and the Nasdaq composite rose 47.64 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,156.31.

Financial stocks were among the biggest gainers, helped by the prospect of higher interest...