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U.S. stocks surged on Thursday, lifting the Dow industrials back into positive terrain for the year, as heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar boosted its profit outlook and an unexpected increase in euro-zone manufacturing eased worries about the global economy. But equities pared gains in late trading as New York City's Bellevue Hospital said it was testing a doctor who recently returned from West Africa for Ebola after he exhibited some symptoms consistent with the virus.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones each gained more than 1 percent while the Nasdaq rose 1.6 percent. Caterpillar rallied after reporting a quarterly profit that soared past estimates; 3M jumped after the diversified manufacturer posted higher quarterly profit, and General Motors also tallied a better-than-expected profit in the third quarter. "It's earnings. When we started the day the Dow was still down on the year, then you saw Caterpillar and GM come out with good news," said Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist, Everbank Wealth Management, referring to the Dow's return to the black for 2014.