Stocks Struggle to Hold Gains; Priceline Surges

Stocks struggled to hold gains for any length of time Tuesday as investors took a breather after Monday's rally.

Bank of America advanced after some reassuring words from embattled CEO Ken Lewis.

But financials struggled after MBIA reported another hefty loss — this one clocked in at $727.8 million, or $3.50 a share — amid mounting writedowns.

Techs showed some strength as chips advanced and Priceline shot up more than 10 percent after the travel-booking Web site crushed earnings expectations due to an "exceptionally strong" summer-travel season.

And retail stocks continued to shine as investors are increasingly making bets on consumer-discretionary spending.

Today's choppy session came after the Dow chalked up its second 200-plus gain in three sessions on Monday. All three major indexes gained 2 percent or more yesterday and the Dow's close was its highest since Oct. 3, 2008.

There are no major releases on the calendar for a second consecutive day, a streak that will be continued Wednesday as many offices and the bond market will be closed in observance of the Veterans' Day holiday.

Filling the void, we've got a parade of Fed speakers today: Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher.

Lockhart and Yellen warned that unemployment likely will remain high for the next several yearsbecause the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring. These were the first public remarks from Fed officials since the government last week reported that the unemployment rate surged to 10.2 percent in October, the highest since the mid-1980s.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

Tarullo speaks at 3:30 pm ET and Fisher speaks tonight.

The Treasury will auction $25 billion in 10-year notes, with the results available shortly after 1 pm New York time. That follows a strong 3-year note auction Monday, though traders say the 10-year is the one that will be watched most closely.

JPMorgan announced plans to reinstate its 401(k) matching — starting with 2009. Companies can still squeak it in for this year if they want to.

AIG said it is moving toward repaying bailout money.

And Yahoo is back in expansion mode — CEO Carol Bartz said they're hiring again.

Electronic Arts tumbled after the videogame maker beat earnings forecasts and announced plans to cut about 1,500 jobs or 17 percent of its workforce. Shares had initially risen in after-hours trading.

Oracle and Sun Microsystems skidded after the U.S. Justice Department weighed in on regulatory concerns about Oracle's purchase of Sun in Europe, saying it does not agree with the EU's objections to the deal.

The earnings calendar is light, but does include reports by Tyco , Beazer Homes , and Intercontinental Hotels .

— Peter Schacknow contributed to this article.

This Week:

TUESDAY: Obama in Asia; Geithner in Japan; Foreclosure-prevention summit; Fed's Lockhart, Yellen & Fisher speak; 10-year auction
WEDNESDAY: Veterans' Day (offices, bond market closed); Bill Gates speaks; Forbes most powerful people list; weekly mortgage applications; Earnings from Macy's, Applied Materials
THURSDAY: FDA meeting on Internet advertising starts; Buffett/Gates/CNBC Town Hall meeting; Geithner at APEC meeting in Singapore; weekly jobless claims; weekly crude inventories; Treasury budget; Earnings fro mWal-Mart, Disney
FRIDAY: NY Fed conference on financial intermediation; international trade; import/export prices; consumer sentiment; Nicholas Cosmo court appearance; Fed's Evans speaks; Earnings from JCPenney, Abercrombie

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