Nasdaq flirts with 3,000

NEW YORK - Banks dodged a big hit from the Greek debt crisis and rallied Thursday to lead the stock market higher. Strong retail sales and more encouraging news about the U.S. job market also helped stocks rise.

The positive economic news is pushing the Nasdaq to levels the technology-heavy index hasn't seen since the dot-com meltdown in 2000. After briefly topping 3,000 on Wednesday for the first time in more than a decade, the Nasdaq rose 22 points to close at 2989.

The banks of the world are on the hook for at most $70 billion in bond-insurance payments if Greece defaults on its debt. But a panel ruled that Greece's plan to restructure its debt should not trigger any bond-insurance payments, at least not yet.

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Bank stocks pushed higher in relief. Goldman Sachs (GS) rose 4.7 percent, and Morgan Stanley (MS) rose 3.6 percent.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) were among the top gainers in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow rose 54 points to 13,005 at 2 p.m. Eastern, before closing at 12,980, up 0.22 percent on the day. In the broader market, the S&P 500 index rose 8 points to 1,374.