The Dow rose for a sixth straight session Wednesday as the dollar hit a new 15-month low after Federal Reserve officials reinforced the view that rates will remain low for some time.
Also giving the market a boost was strong Chinese data on factory output and retail sales.
It will be a quiet day as far as scheduled events are concerned, with many businesses and the bond market closed for the Veterans Day holiday, though the stock market will be open for a normal trading session.
Weekly data on mortgage applications and crude inventories, typically released on Wednesdays, were postponed until Thursday this week due to the Veteran's Day holiday today.
The Dow has gained 5.5 percent in the past six sessions but some market pros say it may be maxing out.
"The rally in the markets is a faux rally—there's nothing that is substantiating the recent run-up. It's based on pure emotion and momentum, and it's triggered by a 'herd mentality' that people are going to miss out on future gains if they don't jump in now—regardless of the fundamentals, or lack thereof," said Todd Schoenberger, managing director of LandColt Trading in San Antonio. "Until spending increases, stock valuations will continue to be vulnerable."
AIG shares skidded after the Wall Street Journal reported that CEO Robert Benmosche told the board he was "done" with the job.
Wal-Mart shares rose after the discount giant said it will offer a $100 gift card to shoppers who buy BlackBerrys and an assortment of devices that go with the smartphones. Shares of Research In Motion , which makes the BlackBerry, rose.
Garmin shares , which have been hammered in recent weeks over the Droid phone's free navigation system, have started to crawl back in the past few days, though it's been a choppy ascent.
Shares of Applied Materials rose ahead of earnings from the chip-equipment maker, due out after the closing bell. Earlier this week, the Semiconductor Industry Association said it expects chip sales to rise more than 10 percent next year.
Macy's shares tumbled after the department-store operator beat market expectations but thwarted any enthusiasm with a downbeat outlook for the fourth quarter.
Toll Brothers shares soared after the homebuilder hit it out of the park late Tuesday, reporting a sharp improvement in earnings as orders rose and cancellations declined.
The rest of the sector also rallied, with many homebuilder stocks up 5 to 6 percent.
Among other reasons for renewed optimism: upbeat comments by executives of both FedEx and UPS about the upcoming holiday season.
- UPS Sees Better Holiday Demand
The dollar dropped to a 15-month low but Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said a strong dollar is key to the recovery.
"I believe deeply that it's very important to the United States, to the economic health of the United States, that we maintain a strong dollar," Geithner said in a meeting with Japanese reporters at the U.S. embassy.
In deal news, United Technologies reportedly is close to purchasing a unit of General Electric for $1.8 billion, Bloomberg reported.
GE, the parent of CNBC, is currently in talks with Comcast , to sell its stake in NBC Universal to the cable company.
Ford was back in the spotlight after China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, vying to buy Ford Motor's loss-making Volvo unit, said it has developed a turnaround plan under which it hopes to double Volvo's sales to near 1 million vehicles a year.
WEDNESDAY: Veterans' Day (offices, bond market closed); Bill Gates speaks; Forbes most powerful people list; Earnings from Macy's, Applied Materials
THURSDAY: FDA meeting on Internet advertising starts; Buffett/Gates/CNBC Town Hall meeting; Geithner at APEC meeting in Singapore; weekly mortgage applications; weekly jobless claims; weekly crude inventories; Treasury budget; Earnings from Wal-Mart, Disney
FRIDAY: NY Fed conference on financial intermediation; international trade; import/export prices; consumer sentiment; Nicholas Cosmo court appearance; Fed's Evans speaks; Earnings from JCPenney, Abercrombie
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