NEW YORK (AP) - A weekend of strong holiday shopping in the U.S. and radical proposals for stanching Europe's debt crisis sent stocks soaring Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index broke a seven-day losing streak the Dow Jones industrial average jumped 291 points, its biggest gain in a month.
Markets in Europe also surged as leaders there discussed previously unthinkable approaches for containing the region's debt troubles, such as joint bond sales and tighter fiscal controls. France's CAC-40 jumped 5.5 percent. Indexes in Germany and Italy rose 4.6 percent. The battered euro rose against the dollar.
Retail stocks, meanwhile, spiked after initial reports showed a record number of shoppers hit the mall or bought gifts online during the holiday weekend. Macy's Inc. rose 4.7 percent and Best Buy Co. rose 3.4 percent. Thanksgiving weekend is a make-or-break time for many retailers. Black Friday is often the biggest retail sales day of the year.
The Dow soared 291.23 points, or 2.6 percent, to 11,523.01. Alcoa Inc. jumped 5.7 percent, the most of the 30 stocks in the Dow. The Dow plunged 564 points last week on fear that Europe's debt crisis was spreading to large countries like Spain, Italy and even Germany.
The S&P 500 rose 33, or 2.9 percent, to 1,192.55. The gains came across industries and sectors; only six stocks in the index fell. The Nasdaq composite rose 85, or 3.5 percent, to 2,527.34.
As the threat of an imminent meltdown in Europe ebbed, U.S. investors focused on a strong weekend of holiday shopping. A record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the four-day holiday weekend starting on Thanksgiving Day, up from 212 million last year, according to early estimates by The National Retail Federation. They spent more, too: The average holiday shopper spent $398.62 over the weekend, up from $365.34 a year ago. That's an encouraging sign for consumer spending.
The retail numbers added to a growing set of indicators, including steady drops in the number of new applications for unemployment benefits, that suggest the U.S. economy is continuing to heal. As recently as August, there were widespread concerns that the U.S. could enter another recession.
That negativity has helped drag the S&P 500 down 5.9 percent in November. Monday's gains broke a seven-day losing streak for the index, its longest since the wild market swings from this August.
Bank stocks rose sharply as investors became less fearful of an imminent freeze-up in Europe's financial system. Citigroup Inc. leapt 6 percent and Morgan Stanley jumped 4.1 percent.
Despite the big move in the markets Monday, many troubling questions remain about the situation in Europe.