US STOCKS-Wall St bets on Britain staying in EU; stocks rally
* Financial shares lead S&P 500
* Indexes up: Dow 1 pct, S&P 1 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct (Updates to afternoon, changes byline)
By Rodrigo Campos
June 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as Wall Street bet strongly that Britain is voting to remain part of the European Union, avoiding a likely hit to Europe's economy and possible consequences to global economic growth.
The results of the referendum, for which polls close at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), are not yet known. Although bookmakers give the remain camp a more than 80-percent chance of victory, polls continue to show the decision as too close to call.
The British pound rallied against the U.S. dollar, brushing $1.50, but shaved a full percentage point from its earlier gain. It was last up 0.6 percent at $1.4796.
"People are expecting that Britain is going to vote to stay in the EU based on what's happening here, particularly with the fact that financials are leading," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
"They view the potential disruption of a British exit as a major financial event. The relief rally, makes sense, would be strongest among those names."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 168.85 points, or 0.95 percent, to 17,949.68, the S&P 500 gained 20.37 points, or 0.98 percent, to 2,105.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.96 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,891.27. Continuación...