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The close: Three days of gains Add to ...

Markets in the United States rallied at the end of the day to close higher for the third session in a row, the first time in three weeks as a series of economic measures were introduced by the U.S. government. The Dow Jones industrial average eked out a 0.43 per cent gain, or 36.08 points, to 8,479.47, while the broader S&P 500 closed up 0.63 per cent, or 5.39 points, to 857.20. The Dow has gained almost 12 per cent since Thursday's close. Tuesday morning, the  U.S. government introduced measures to improve the credit markets, including $20-billion (U.S.) to help companies that issue credit cards, student loans and car loans. The Federal Reserve also said it would buy $600-billion in mortgage-backed assets, to help banks clean up their balance sheets. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX eked out a tiny gain, closing up 1.99 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 8442.86 even as the price of oil dove nearly 7 per cent to settle at $50.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Energy shares performed well despite oil's slide, with the subindex up 0.91 per cent. Nexen Inc. gained 8.59 per cent, Petro-Canada gained 4.24 per cent and EnCana Corp. added 1.81 per cent. Financials also had a strong day, following Bank of Montreal's announcement that its profit increased by 24 per cent in the last quarter despite difficult markets. BMO closed 0.70 per cent higher. Sun Life Financial added 10.82 per cent, while Bank of Nova Scotia gained 2.74 per cent. Research In Motion was the biggest drag on the index, down 7.8 per cent following reports from consultancy Gartner that cellphone sales will fall next year as the economic slowdown continues. Toronto-Dominion Bank, which said it will sell shares to raise up to $1.2-billion, lost 4.83 per cent.

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