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Stocks Climb, Led by Health Care; Cisco Slips

Tuesday, 28 Sep 2010 | 1:26 PM ET

Stocks climbed into positive territory Tuesday as investors expected the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the economy, supporting equities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up almost 50 points after falling more than 80 earlier in the session. Travelers, Intel and Pfizer rose. Cisco , JPMorgan and General Electricfell.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were also higher. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose above 22.

Health care, consumers staples, and energy sectors rose while materials and telecoms fell.

The market's positive tone comes a day after the major indexes fell about a half percentin the previous session, taking some of the steam out of a September rally.

Some investors may be positive on the market because of a greater likelihood the Federal Reserve will begin quantitative easing. Hedge fund advisor Medley Global Advisors said in a report that the Fed is preparing a fresh round of quantitative easing measuresto battle the lackluster economy, according to Reuters.

The Fed indicated last week that they would act if things don't get better in the economy, which is different than the past, when they said they would act if things got worse, Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at BlackRock, said on CNBC.

“That means the probability has gone up a bunch and in the near-term, that’s got to be positive for equities,” Doll said. “You know what it’s done to the dollar and to the price of gold — it’s likely positive for risk assets and the hope has to be that it all translates to better news for the real economy and the nominal economy.”

The quantitative easing measures by the Fed may involve more small-scale bond buying programs, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last year the Fed carried out large bond purchases to add liquidity to the markets.

Shares of Apple recovered after dropping nearly 6 percent following speculation that top exeecutive Tim Cook would be going to Hewlett-Packard to replace former CEO Mark Hurd, but analysts dismissed the rumors, saying Cook is a favorite to succeed Apple's CEO Steve Jobs.

HP shares rose ahead of its analyst meeting at its headquarters. Expectations remain that a replacement for ousted CEO Hurd is imminent.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion fell almost 3 percent even after after the smartphone maker unveiled its answer to Apple'siPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Shares of AOL advanced after the Internet services firm said it would acquire TechCrunch, a technology blog and network, as it tries to remake itself into a Web entertainment and news powerhouse.

And Oracle rose after the tech giant sued Micron for alleged price fixing of microchips.

Shares of Jabil Circuitslumped almost 5 percent after the electronics-component maker said that its revenue was at the low end of its guidance, and it forecast a lower-than-expected revenue target for the first quarter.

In other earnings news, Walgreen soared more than 10 percent, to lead the S&P 500, after the drug-store retailer posted strong earnings, thanks to robust pharmacy sales. The company also reported better same-store sales. Shares of rival CVS were also higher.

Target shares were mostly flat after Credit Suisse downgraded the retailer to "neutral" from "outperform" and lowered its target price for the stock to $58 a share from $64.

Barnes & Noble shareholders backed Chairman Leonard Riggio in a contentious proxy battle.

KB Home fell after Goldman Sachs downgraded the homebuilder to "sell" from "neutral," citing high expenses and also cut the company's target price to $10 from $13 a share. In addition, Citigroup cut its target price for the stock to $14 from $17.

Goldman had more positive comments for rival Pulte as it upgraded the homebuilder to "neutral" from "sell," and raised its price target to $9 from $8.

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Continuing the flurry of recent M&A activity, Endo Pharmaceuticals jumped more than 8 percent after the firm said it will buy private generics maker Qualitest Pharmaceuticals for about $1.2 billion, marking its second deal in as many months.

Pfizer rose even after the pharmaceutical giant pulled the plug on a late-stage study of its advanced prostate cancer drug Sutent.

UBS removed Procter & Gamble from its U.S. key calls list, although it maintained a "buy" rating on the stock, as its price target of $72 a share.

JPMorgan Chase may try to recoup the funds it used to buy Washington Mutual assets, according to a report from Associated Press. The bank notified federal regulators of its plans, according to people familiar with the situation, the report said.

Monsanto tumbled more than 8 percent amid mounting reports about disappointing harvest results of the company's new highly touted corn seed.

Meanwhile, the government auctioned $35 billion of 5-year notes, which had a high yield of 1.260 percent and a bid-to-cover of 2.96.

Auctions of 7-year notes are expected on Wednesday.

In economic news, consumer confidence index fellto 48.5 in September from 53.2 in August, according to the Conference Board. The drop marks the lowest level since February. Economists had expected a reading of 52.5, according to Reuters.

Home prices rose in July from June, although the growth slowed, according to the Case-Shiller composite index. According to the index, the 10 major metropolitan areas rose 0.8 percent from June, while the 20-city index rose 0.6 percent. Seasonally-adjusted, the 10-city index was flat, while the 20-area index slipped 0.1 percent.

Ireland may see its credit rating cut again because of the escalating cost of recapitalizing Anglo Irish Bank, according to the rating agency Standard & Poor's. Moody's had downgraded the bank by three notches the day before. Borrowing costs for Ireland and other periphery euro-zone countries spiked following the news.

On Tap For This Week:

TUESDAY: Atlanta Fed Pres Lockhart speaks; HP analyst meeting
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; oil inventories; Minneapolis Fed Pres Kockerlakota speaks; Philadelphia Fed Pres Plosser speaks; Boston Fed Pres Rosengren speaks; 7-year note auction
THURSDAY: Reading on GDP; Weekly jobless claims; Corporate profits; Chicago PMI; Hearing on J&J recalls
FRIDAY: Personal spending; NY Fed Pres Dudley speaks; Consumer sentiment; ISM manufacturing index; Construction spending; Monthly auto sales; BP's Hayward steps down

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