The gains persisted despite small reminders that there are still serious problems punctuating the world economy, like middling growth in the U.S. and the still-unsolved European debt crisis. The government reported that U.S. builders spent less on construction projects in November, the first decline in eight months. And the president of debt-wracked Cyprus said he'd refuse to sell government-owned companies, a provision that the country’s bailout deal says it must at least consider.
Among stocks making big moves, Zipcar shot up 48 percent, rising $3.94 to $12.18, after the company said it would sell itself to Avis. Avis rose 5 percent, up 95 cents to $20.77.
Marriott rose 4 percent, up $1.52 to $38.79, after SunTrust analysts upgraded the stock to ‘‘buy.’’ Headphone maker Skullcandy dropped 13 percent, losing 99 cents to $6.80, after Jefferies analysts downgraded it to ‘‘underperform.’’