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Three wins in a row for the bulls!But first, the scoreboard:

Dow: +205.14
NASDAQ: +45.79
S&P 500: +24.96

And now, the top stories:

  • Obviously, the market is still recovering from the bucking-bronco, news-packed action of the last week. The market has been moving violently in response to S&P, the European crisis, growing concerns about the banks, etc. Despite crashes on Monday and Wednesday of last week, stocks ended the week on a two-day winning streak, and ultimately only a modest loss.
  • It was a rare weekend without an emergency meeting somewhere in the US or Europe. There was some chatter about the upcoming meeting between Sarkozy and Merkel (which is tomorrow), and how perhaps “Euro-Bonds” could be on the table, but for now there’s nothing even remotely concrete about that. Nonetheless, European markets rallied nicely. It should be noted that Italy was closed for Holiday.
  • Backing up a second, Asia had a big night. Japan posted a narrower GDP contraction than had been expected, and the Hong Kong market had one of its best days in years (despite a GDP miss, actually).
  • It was risk on from the very early going, and the bulls never let go. US futures were up modestly in the early going, and a very ugly Empire Fed Report only inflicted momentary damage.
  • The big corporate news of the day was Google’s announced purchase of Motorola Mobility. That got the M&A/animal spirits-juices flowing in the early going, perhaps counteracting some of the bad news on the Empire Fed front. Other handset makers rallied in sympathy, with Nokia gaining over 17% and Research in Motion rallying nearly 10%, perhaps on the hope that Microsoft will now make a handset buy. Apple, which would seem to be a target of Google here was up as well, so investors obviously aren’t that concerned.
  • The most heartening development, for now: Banks staged a really big comeback, with Bank of America leading the way. It ended a bit under 7% (although it was up over 8% at one point). Morgan Stanley, which got destroyed on Friday, was up over 5%.
  • In the end, stocks have totally erased the S&P downgrade plunge, and have staged the biggest 3-day gain since March 2009. Kind of hilarious.
  • Meanwhile, if you want to be depressed about the state of the economy, click here.