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Dow Ends Above 13,000 for First Time Since 2008

Stocks logged a gain Tuesday despite mixed economic reports, with the Dow finishing above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008 and the S&P closing at its best level in almost four years.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 23.61 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 13,005.12, ending above the psychologically-important 13,000 level for the first time since May 2008.

Microsoft and Intel led the Dow leaders, while AmEx sagged.

The S&P 500 gained 4.59 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 1,372.18, logging its best close since June 2008. The Nasdaq added 20.60 points, or 0.69 percent, to finish at 2986.76.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended around 18.

Apple shares topped $535, hitting an all-time high. Meanwhile, the tech giant announced it is holding an event in San Francisconext Wednesday, but did not specifically mention a new iPad.

On the economic front, consumer confidence jumped to a one-year high in February, gaining to 70.8 from an upwardly revised 61.5 in the previous month, according to the Conference Board.

However, durable goods orders slumped 4 percent in January, logging its biggest slide in almost three years, according to the Commerce Department, due to a large decline in business spending on machinery and equipment. Meanwhile, core capital goods tumbled 4.5 percent, the biggest drop in a year.

Oil prices extended their lossesfollowing the report, with U.S. light, sweet crude trading near $108 a barrel.

“The bigger picture seems to be the improving consumer confidence number,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “Still, investors seem to doubt the rally because people are frustrated that markets keep hitting multi-year highs.”

Detrick also noted that March and April have historically been the best months for equities and expects this year to be no different.

“We’ll continue to have volatility with the election coming up, but 1,500 [on the S&P] sometime this year is not out of the question,” said Detrick. “We think there’s still a lot of room for economic improvement.”

In addition, home prices fell for the fourth-consecutive monthin December, with 18 of the 20 cities tracked posting a decline. The S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index slid 3.8 percent, ending 2011 at the lowest levels since mid-2006.

Still, some experts say they are ready to "call a bottom" in the real estate market.

“Interest rates are at all-time lows and real estate prices are at 10-year lows," said Leif Thomsen, president of MortgageMaster. "People who don’t buy relatively soon will be kicking themselves.”

Thomsen's comments echo billionaire investor Warren Buffett's sentiments earlier this week that single-family homes are a very attractive investment.

Also among techs, Micron jumped after Intel said it will sell its stake in two wafer factories to the chipmaker and buy semiconductors from the company. Other semiconductors rallied, including Lam Research and Broadcom .

Priceline.com surged to lead the S&P 500 gainers after the online travel site reported earnings that topped estimates. In addition, at least 10 brokerages boosted their price targets on the firm.

Office Depot gained after the office supply chain posted better-than-expected earnings thanks to lower expenses and fewer discounts during the holiday season. Rival Staples is slated to post results Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Apollo tumbled to lead the S&P 500 laggards after the for-profit college said it expects weaker enrollment numbers going forward. Rival Career Educationswung to a loss earlier this week as the firm also failed to bring in new students. Other for-profit education schools DeVry and Corinthian Colleges also fell.

DreamWorks Animation is scheduled to post earnings after-the-bell tonight.

McDonald's eked out a gain after the world's largest fast-food chain said it plans to increase the number of restaurants in China. McDonald's currently trails behind rival Yum Brands in opening chains in China.

European stocks finished higherahead of this week’s liquidity injection by the ECB, which market participants hope will alleviate tensions in the European banking sector.

(A Breaking News alert on the home page said Apple will unveil a 4G iPad 3 next week, but CNBC has only confirmed that Apple is expected to make some kind of product announcement then.)

—Follow JeeYeon Park on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, GDP, Fed's Fisher speaks, Chicago PMI, Bernanke speaks, oil inventories, Fed's Plosser speaks, Beige Book; Earnings from Costco, Staples
THURSDAY; Fed's Pianalto speaks, jobless claims, personal income and spending, ISM mfg index, construction spending, Fed's Lockhart speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, auto sales, chain store sales, EU summit; Earnings from Big Lots, Kroger, Wendy's
FRIDAY: Fed's Bullard speaks, Yelp set to trade

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