A mood of mild optimism has begun to spread down Wall Street not long after there was nothing but long faces. Fancy that. More good news out of Europe, better-than-expected new home sales, and the latest of a solid second-quarter earnings season has helped resuscitate the animal spirits that were missing in action since the spring. Stocks rose past some key milestones in their historic July over the past week, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average just barely into positive territory for the year. It was a very professional, low volatility rally this week, a welcome change from the intra-day dramatics that had put everyone on edge lately. What has really changed from the point of view of government policy or corporate results? Nothing and everything. The nothing is interest rates, inflation, fiscal spending and earnings are the same now as they were three months ago. The everything is that negative sentiment was washed out by selling in the worst May-June span since 1940 amid fears ranging from an ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico to a debt disaster in Europe. When facts and feelings meet in a dark alley on Wall Street, mood tends to win -- at least for a spell. To find out what’s changing on Wall Street, click here .