The Dow Jones industrial average surged 337 points following encouraging signs out of Europe and a jump in apartment construction in the U.S. It was the best day for U.S.  stocks this month.

The Spanish government pulled off a successful debt auction Tuesday and gauges of business and consumer confidence in Germany increased. Both helped ease worries about Europe's debt crisis.

The Dow gained 2.9 percent to close at 12,103. Caterpillar jumped 5 percent, the most in the Dow.

The S&P 500 index rose 36 points, or 3 percent, to 1,241. Only six stocks in the index fell.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 81, or 3.2 percent, to 2,604. Seven stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was light at 3.8 billion.

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