Stocks were on track to end significantly higher Friday and for the fourth straight week as traders began to gain more confidence in the future health of the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 200 points, after falling more than 76 points on Thursday. All 30 Dow components were higher throughout the session, led by Caterpillar , Alcoa,, and Boeing .
The upbeat tone to the market came after three lackluster sessionsstalled a rally in the markets that had dominated most of September.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were up about 2 percent. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the markets, plunged more than 8 percent to trade slightly below 22.
The top 10 key S&P sectors were all higher, led by industrials, consumer discretionary,and financials.
Industrials Alcoa and Caterpillar were among several multinationals getting a boost from the weakening dollar. In addition, Credit Suisse reiterated an "outperform" rating on Caterpillar and raised a price target on the shares to $95 from $85.
The first indication stocks would move higher today came out of Europe, when Germany reported business sentiment rose unexpectedly. That bodes well for U.S. industrial companies, which are among the sectors leading the market's surge Friday, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.
"The market just wants to know that we are not headed for an imminent double-dip recession," Krosby said.
Early in the session, hedge fund manager David Tepper said he was buying stocks, a statement some analysts attributed to a surge in the markets before the opening bell.
"You could visibly see futures begin to move when Tepper said he was into stocks," Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, said on CNBC.
Citigroup shares were higher after the bank's board said it would raise CEO's Vikram Pandit's salaryabove the token $1 he has received for the last two years.
Other industrial stocks on the rise included CSXand Norfolk Southern , which advanced almost 3 percent each, even after BB&T Capital lowered its rating on the railroad operators to "hold" from "buy."
Shares of GE and Comcast remained higher after news that Jeff Zucker, CEO of GE's NBC Universal unit, will step down after NBC's merger with Comcast. CNBC.com is a division of NBC Universal.
Shares of Amazon.com jumped after JPMorgan raised its earnings-per-share estimates for the Internet retailing giant for 2010 and 2010, and issued a price target of $198 for the company for the end of 2011, up from $154.
Nike sharessurged after the athletic clothing and shoe maker reported results that beat expectations, citing growing demand in North America, China, and emerging markets. And at least four brokerages raised their price targets on the firm.
Also in earnings news, KB Home shares rose after the homebuilder reported a narrower quarterly loss Friday as closings rose on homes ordered before the expiration of a federal tax credit.
In technology news, Oracle was among a handful of stocks that was trading lower after news CEO Larry Ellison sold 1 million shares of the software company's stock and that it is ready to make more acquisitions of data storage companies like NetApp . Rivals Compellent Technologies and Isilon also rose.
Advanced Micro Devices jumped despite joining a list of tech companies warning on revenues this week. AMD said it expects third-quarter sales to fall due to weaker-than-expected demand, especially among consumers buying laptops in Western Europe and North America. In addition, at least three brokerages lowered their price targets on the chipmaker.
And shares of Mahindra Satyam tumbled more than 25 percent after the Indian IT firm said it would delist from the NYSE in mid-October due to non-compliance.
Elsewhere, Constellation Energy was slightly higher after Bank of America Merrill Lynch reinstated coverage of the energy company with a "neutral" rating and price target of $35 a share.
Lockheed Martin was higher despite a report by Reuters that the U.K. plans to cut back on aircraft purchases from the manufacturer. Also, Morgan Stanley cut Lockheed to "equalweight" from "overweight."
Bank of America Merrill Lynch hasincreased its share of deals in the mergers and acquisitions sector and it looks well-placed for further growth in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, global M&A deals have come back this year, rising 21 percent so far, according to ThomsonReuters data.