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Techs Gain Ahead of Apple, TI Earnings

Stocks advanced Monday, rebounding off of their worst week since last March, as worries about Bernanke's confirmation subsided and investors scooped up bargains. Techs advanced ahead of earnings from Apple and Texas Instruments after the bell.

Last week, the Dow chalked up its worst week since March 2009amid worries about earnings, Washington's tough talk on banks and China.

A couple of items worrying investors eased up: Doubts about the confirmation of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke subsided and demand was strong for Greece's first bond offering of the year.

Stocks briefly pared their gains after a report showed existing-home sales fell 16.7 percentin December, much worse than the 10-percent drop expected, but then shrugged it off.

Some financial stocks clawed higher, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs as investors scooped up bargains in the beaten-down sector.

Wal-Mart skidded after the discount retailer said it's cutting 10 percent of jobs at its Sam's Club stores.

Techs were among the day's best performers ahead of results from Apple and Texas Instruments after the bell.

Investors are also looking to Apple's announcement on Wednesday, which is expected to be about a new tablet computer that could give Amazon's Kindle a run for its money. Amazon shares were down about 2 percent.

Intel led the Dow at the halfway point, followed by Caterpillar and General Electric. American Express and Kraft were at the bottom of the pack.

This mornings earnings were a mixed bag.

Halliburton reported its profit dropped 7 percent amid weaker drilling activity and lower prices for its oil-field services, but expects an improvement in its North American business.

Diversified manufacturer Eaton reported profit higher than expected.

Cadbury slipped following news that the UK chocolatier won't be getting a bid from Italy's Ferrero, clearing the path for a takeover by Kraft Foods.

An encouraging sign on the jobs front: Companies are aslowly increasing hiring plans for the first half of 2010, according to a new survey from the National Association For Business Economics.

The Lundberg survey says the average price of a gallon of gasoline slipped 1.42 cents over the past two weeks to $2.72 per gallon.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

And News Corp.'s "Avatar" is about to become the highest grossing movie ever, just a month or so after being released. It's just $2 million shy of the record set in 1997 by "Titanic". Both movies were directed by James Cameron.

This Week:

MONDAY: Earnings from Apple and Texas Instruments after the bell
TUESDAY: Fed begins two-day meeting; Consumer confidence; Two-year note auction; Earnings from DuPont, J&J, Travelers, Verizon, Corning, US Steel and Yahoo
WEDNESDAY: Apple announcement; Geithner to testify; new-home sales; Five-year auction; Fed statement; Earnings from Boeing, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips and United Technologies; Obama State of the Union
THURSDAY: Jim Chanos speaks on China bubble; durable-goods orders; seven-year auction; Earnings from 3M, AT&T, Eli Lilly, Ford, Nokia, P&G, Altria, Colgate-Palmolive, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Microsoft and Amazon
FRIDAY: First look at Q4 GDP; Chicago PMI; consumer sentiment; Earnings from Chevron

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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