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Stocks Log 3-Day Rally; S&P Ends Above 1400

Tuesday, 7 Aug 2012 | 5:00 PM ET

Stocks eased off their best levels in the final hour of trading but still finished higher for a third-consecutive session Tuesday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finishing above key levels, as investors bet on more stimulus from central banks to bolster the global economy.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 51.09 points, or 0.39 percent, to close at 13,168.60, led by Cisco and Boeing . The blue-chip index has rallied nearly 8 percent this year and is currently about 100 points away from closing at a 4.5-year high. (Read More: Dow Rally Likely to Hit Barrier at 13,500?)

The S&P 500 climbed 7.12 points, or 0.51 percent, to end at 1,401.35. The Nasdaq jumped 25.95 points, or 0.87 percent, to finish at 3,015.86. The S&P and Nasdaq closed above their levels of 1,400 and 3,000 for the first time since early May.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, finished near 16.

Most S&P sectors finished in positive territory, led by energy and materials, whiledefensive sectors such as utilities and consumer staples closed in the red.

“There have been substantial moves to the upside and those things seem to be flying in the face of the fact that economic data’s not been particularly strong,” noted Doreen Mogavero, president and CEO of Mogavero, Lee & Company. “If the Fed doesn’t have to move, that’s a good thing for the economy…but this is still a very headline-driven market and we’re way overvalued.”

European shares closed higheras investors remained optimistic following ECB President Mario Draghi's comments last week in support of a bond-buying program to help lower borrowing costs in Spain and Italy. (Read More: Italy Recession Deepens, Adding to Monti's Problems)

And German industrial orders fell more than expected in June, further supporting idea of more action from the ECB.

Meanwhile, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren reiterated his call for the central bank to expand monetary policyand called for more quantitative easing. Rosengren also added he did not expect the economy to improve in the second half of the year and called for another bond buying program. Rosengren is not a voting member on the Fed’s Open Market Committee(explain this) this year.

Why Are Stocks Up?
Discussing what's behind the stock market rally, with Ryan Lewenza, TD Waterhouse; Michael Jones, RiverFront Investment Group; and CNBC's Rick Santelli & Bob Pisani.

“We’ve got the carryover from the non-farm payroll and Europe down the road will see the ECB do something,” said Ira Epstein, managing director at the Linn Group. “However, we’re in the dog days of the summer and volume is light as can be…I think the expectations [for Fed action] are built in and you’re now starting to anticipate the presidential election. I think we’re starting to prepare for that bump.”

Google and Apple among other groups have made bids for bankrupt Eastman Kodak's patents, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January and is planning on auctioning more than 1,000 digital patents.

Officials have fully containeda huge fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, but the extent of the damage to the plant was not known. Chevron shares edged higher.

Among earnings, CVS Caremark gained after the pharmacy chain posted higher quarterly earnings and boosted its full-year forecast.

Sirius XM Radio rallied after the satellite radio provider reported better-than-expected revenue and boosted its earnings outlookfor the year.

Fossil soared more than 30 percent to lead the S&P 500 index after the fashion-accessories maker forecast a full-year earnings above estimates and posted better-than-expected quarterly results.

Disney , Priceline and Express Scripts areslated to post earnings after the closing bell. S&P Capital IQ maintained its "strong buy" rating on Disney.

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson slipped after the drugmakers ended further studies of one of the most anticipated experimental drugs for Alzheimer's disease following an unsuccessful second clinical trial.

U.S. Home Systems surged after Home Depot said it would acquire the specialty home-improvement company for about $12.50 a share.

On the economic front, consumer credit posted its weakest growth in eight months in June, only growing by $6.46 billion, according to the Federal Reserve. Economists had expected a gain of $11 billion, according to a Reuters poll.

Meanwhile, Bernanke stressed the importance of the nation being financially educated during a town hall meeting at the Fed on financial education. However, the Chairman did not comment on the outlook for monetary policy in his prepared remarks. (CNBC.com is streaming this event live.)

Treasury prices remained weak after the government auctioned $32 billion in 3-year notes at a high yield of 0.370 percent and bid-to-cover of 3.51.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps, productivity & costs, oil inventories, 10-yr note auction, AmEx investor mtg, Kodak patent auction, McDonald's same-store sales; Earnings from Computer Sciences, Dean Foods, Macy's, Ralph Lauren, Rio Tinto, Soda Stream, NewsCorp
THURSDAY: International trade, jobless claims, wholesale trade, 30-yr bond auction, Manchester United pricing; Earnings from Advanced Auto Parts, Kohl's, Nordstrom
FRIDAY: Import/export prices, USDA crop production report, Manchester United IPO; Earnings from JCPenney

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