Stocks advanced Tuesday after reports showed consumer confidence improved and home prices stabilized.
The Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence rose to 52.9 in December from 50.6 in November, in-line with expectations.
The S&P/Case-Shiller report showed home prices were flatin October, after five straight increases, but it was still viewed by the market as an encouraging sign that the housing market is stabilizing.
"The rate was basically in line with the consensus forecast. We continue to see stabilization on a month to month basis in housing prices," Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management, told Reuters.
Still to come: The Treasury will auction $42 billion in 5-year notes, with the results available shortly after 1 pm.
And a survey from CareerBuilder.com shows employers expect to hire more new workers in 2010 than they did this year. 20 percent indicate they'll be doing more hiring, compared to 14 percent a year ago.
At the opening bell, Disney , Intel and Coke were at the top of the Dow's leader board. American Express and Hewlett-Packard were at the bottom of the pack.
Among the early market movers was Amazon.com , which showed brisk holiday sales and saw its price estimate raised to $155 from $120 by analysts at Kauffman Bros.
General Motorsis holding what many are referring to as a "fire sale" of Saturn and Pontiac vehicles, as it attempts to clear out inventories of those discontinued brands. Costs could be cut as much as 46 percent off the sticker price.
Paulson, the New York hedge fund run by billionaire John Paulson and BlackRock are among a list of prominent investors attracted by the coming IPO of the world's largest aluminum maker, RUSAL.
The Federal Reserve will introduce a term deposit facility which will allow banks to get interest on deposits with maturities of under one year with the central bank, as part of its efforts to soak up excess liquidity from the market, to fight inflation when the recovery will be well under way.