PARIS Jan 2 * U.S. stocks were poised to rally
on Wednesday in their first session of the new year after
lawmakers passed a bill preventing huge tax hikes and spending
cuts that threatened to jeopardise economic growth.
* The House of Representatives voted for a bill passed on
Monday by the Senate that will raise taxes on wealthy
individuals and families and preserve certain benefits.
Together, these measures will soften some of the blow that would
have resulted without a deal to avoid a fiscal crunch.
* The vote averted immediate pain like tax hikes for almost
all U.S. households, although it did nothing to resolve other
political showdowns on the budget that loom in coming months.
Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs
were only delayed for two months.
* European shares surged, with the FTSEurofirst 300
rising 1.4 percent and the euro zone's blue chip Euro STOXX 50
index climbing 1.8 percent, while the safe-haven
dollar and German government bonds fell.
* Asian shares also rallied, with The MSCI Asia Pacific
ex-Japan index of stocks gaining 2.1 percent.
Japanese markets were closed on Wednesday for a holiday.
* U.S. stocks ended 2012 with their strongest day in more
than a month, putting the S&P 500 up 13.4 percent for the year,
compared with a flat performance in 20111, as lawmakers in
Washington closed in on a resolution to the fiscal negotiations.
* The Dow Jones industrial average gained 166.03
points, or 1.28 percent, to end at 13,104.14. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index gained 23.76 points, or 1.69 percent, to
finish at 1,426.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained
59.20 points, or 2.00 percent, to close at 3,019.51.
* The Dow rose 7.3 percent in 2012 and the Nasdaq climbed