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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.88, or 0.2 percent, to close at 10,196.86, clawing back a small portion of the more than 4 percent it lost last week. The S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.3 percent.
This came after 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.
And that was reflected in the VIX volatility gauge, which fell more than 7 percent today to just above 25. Though, volume was lighter today than it was last week.
Easing worry about Bernanke helped boost the dollaragainst the yen, while the Greek news buoyed the euro. Oill settled over $75 a barrel and gold climbed to $1,095.20 an ounce.
Gasoline prices have fallen more than $1.40 a gallon in the past few weeks to $2.72 a gallon, according to the Lundberg survey.
Last week's rout prompted some speculation on the trading floor that this might be the beginning of a bear market.
"It has that possibility," Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said on CNBC this morning, saying Washington's "populist anti-bank" tone may "inadvertantly inhibit liquidity."
But others saw last week's losses as a buying opportunity.
"So last week’s selloff from the high—you have to look at it as a temporary pullback in prices that should be used as an opportunity to put new cash to workat this point,” said Art Nunes, market strategist at IMS Capital.
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.
Techs, telecoms and materials were among the day's best performers, with Intel, Caterpillar and GE leading the Dow. American Express, United Technologies and Kraft were at the bottom of the pack.
Investors are awaiting some key earnings out of the tech sector after the bell: Apple and Texas Instruments.
Apple is expected to have another solid quarter — the whisper number pegs earnings at $2.14 a share.