NEW YORK , Dec. 31 -- ( Kyodo ) _ U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday, the last trading day of the year, on strong economic data with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing the year up 26.5 percent, the biggest gain in 18 years. The 30-issue Dow average added 72.37 points, or 0.44 percent, to end at 16,576.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 22.39 points, or 0.54 percent, to 4,176.59. The Nasdaq marked a 38.3 percent annual gain. The broader S&P 500 closed 7.29 points, or 0.40 percent, higher, at a record high 1,848.36, resulting in an annual increase of 29.6 percent. The Dow index started the year in the 13,000 point range, hitting a record high in March for the first time in around five years and five months. After climbing above 15,000 in May, it continued to gain intermittently.
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