Stocks rise on hopes for European bank plan

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Hopes that Europe will finally take the bold steps needed to curb its financial crisis are sending stocks higher.

European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso presented a plan to strengthen European banks and lower Greece's debt. It's being seen as the strongest effort yet to address the region's debt crisis.

Separately, a Slovakian opposition party leader said that country's political parties have agreed to approve a deal to strengthen Europe's financial rescue program. Slovakia blocked the deal on Tuesday, setting back efforts to free up more funds for indebted European countries.

The Dow Jones industrial average is up 117 points, or 1 percent, at 11,533 at midday. The Standard & Poor's 500 is up 16, or 1.4 percent, at 1,211. The Nasdaq composite is up 33, or 1.3 percent, at 2,616.