Stocks rallied Monday, building on two weeks of gains, as a weak dollar boosted commodity stocks and a government report showed retail sales rose in October.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot out of the gate and held a more than 100-point gain throughout the day. All three major indexes hit new highs for 2009.
Alcoa and ExxonMobil were among the leaders on the Dow as the dollar retreated following the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, where no currency agreement was reached with China.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made a rare comment on the dollar— a subject he usually leaves to the Treasury Secretary. Essentially, he said the Fed is watching the dollar but will still likely leave rates low for some time.
"We are attentive to implications of changes in the value of the dollar and will continue to formulate policy to guard against risks to our dual mandate to foster both maximum employment and price stability," he told the Economic Club of New York.
Wal-Mart, Travelers and Microsoft were the only decliners on the Dow.
Oil advanced, settling at nearly $79 a barrel, and gold hit a fresh high above $1,130 an ounce, setttling at $1,138.60.
Retail sales rose 1.4 percentin October amid a jump in auto sales. Investors shrugged off a separate report that showed the Empire State Manufacturing Index fell to 23.51 from 34.57.
Adding to the optimism, Japan reported its GDP rose 1.2% from July to September, its fastest pace in more than two years.
Citigroup jumped on word that hedge fund operator Paulson & Co. has taken a 300 million share stake in the bank, according to an SEC filing.
NBC Universal and CNBC parent General Electric rose as today represents the opening of the annual window for Vivendi to sell its stake in NBCU—with a deal between GE and Comcast for control of NBCU said to be close.
The optimism was muted somewhat as Lowe's, the No. 2 home retailer, reported a 30 percent decline in quarterly profit to 23 cents a share, just a penny below estimates. Larger rival Home Depot reports Tuesday.
Wall Street's major averages are coming off two straight weekly gains. Economic data and retail earnings are likely to present either the biggest barrier to further gains—or the biggest influence.