Stocks slipped from their best levels Thursday, but still closed sharply higher, boosted by an agreement reached by EU leaders on a plan to resolve the region's sovereign debt crisis and after a handful of encouraging economic and earnings reports.
All major average indexes entered positive territory for the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 339.51 points, or 2.86 percent, to finish at 12,208.55, led by BofA and Alcoa .
The blue-chip closed above the psychologically-important 12,000 level for the first time since August and is on track for its best month since Jan. 1987.
The S&P 500 rocketed 42.59 points, or 3.43 percent, to end at 1,284.59. The Nasdaq soared 87.96 points, or 3.32 percent, to close at 2,738.63. The S&P and Nadaq are on pace for their best month since Oct. 1974 and Nov. 2001, respectively.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, plunged almost 15 percent to finish near 25.
All 10 S&P sectors ended firmly in the black, led by financials and materials.
Global markets soared in response to the euro zone leaders' deal with private banks and insurersfor them to accept a 50 percent loss on holdings of Greek government bonds as part of a plan to lower Greece's debt burden and try to contain the region's debt crisis.
“This is an excellent step in the right direction,” said Phil Orlando, Chief Equity Market Strategist at Federated Investors. “The fact that things are moving in the right direction with acceptable ranges is a positive development, so whether or not this problem gets fixed is a secondary problem…the primary point is that euro zone problems are off the table for now.”
Financials led the rally, with Morgan Stanley climbing more than 15 percent. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs soared almost 10 percent. European shares closed sharply higher, with EU banks posting double-digit percentage gains.
In earnings news, Procter & Gamble edged higher even after household products posted profit that dipped slightly, but met expectations.
And fellow Dow component ExxonMobil gained after the oil giant reported a profit that soared more than 40 percent, thanks to gains in oil prices and higher refining margins.