NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks had their best day since the election. Market-watchers are citing optimism about a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and government spending cuts.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 207 points to close at 12,795. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 27 to 1,386. And the Nasdaq composite index rose 62 points to 2,916.

Lowe's and Tyson Foods also helped the market by turning in strong earnings reports.

Advancing stocks outnumbered decliners by about 8-to-1. Early figures show volume was about average, 3.3 billion shares traded.

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    Dow Jones drops 513 points, or 4.3 percent

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    Dow Jones drops 514 points, or 5.7 percent

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    Dow Jones drops 685 points, or 7.1 percent

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    Dow Jones drops 778 points, or 7 percent