Stocks soar on Europe hopes, strong housing starts

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are surging after the opening bell following encouraging signs out of Europe and a jump in apartment building in the U.S.

German business confidence rose unexpectedly in December, and the Spanish government pulled off a successful debt auction.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 237, or 2 percent, to 12,004, in early trade. The S&P 500 index is up 26, or 2.2 percent, to 1,231. The Nasdaq is up 57, or 2.2 percent, to 2,580.

Stock indexes in Germany and France rose 1.6 percent.

The Commerce Department said builders broke ground on 685,000 new homes last month, a 9.3 percent jump from October. That’s the highest level since April 2010.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, rose by 5.7 percent, spurred by a jump in apartment permits.