Dow jumps 205 on RIM profit, Merrill report

Wall Street began what some are hoping could be a late-December rally. But with only six trading days left in the year no doubt some skepticism remains about whether investors can pull off a sustained rally.

Companies like Research in Motion have reported solid sales growth, but others have had a harder time staying profitable as U.S. consumers struggle with sinking home prices and high energy and food costs. Research in Motion jumped $11.78, or 11%, to $118.78.

A Commerce Department report on personal spending brought investors mixed news. Spending rose 1.1% in November, the largest amount in 3 1/2 years. But the Fed's preferred inflation measure — the year-over-year core personal consumption expenditures deflator — rose 2.2%. That's above the Fed's comfort level of 1% to 2%, and could make it harder for the central bank to justify further rate cuts aimed at spurring economic growth.

Electronics retailer Circuit City Stores cc fell $1.91, or 29%, to $4.75 after posting a wider-than-expected loss for the most recent quarter due to lower extended warranty sales and restructuring costs.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies jumped 18.04, or 2.4%, to 785.58.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.5%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 2.3%. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 1.4%, Germany's DAX index advanced 1.7% and France's CAC-40 rose 1.7%.

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