Stocks rebounded Wednesday, as a weaker U.S. dollar gave a boost to commodities, sending materials stocks higher.
The greenback retreated 0.5 percent against a basket of major currencies. Oil settled below $71 a barrelafter a report showed inventories fell, instead of rising as expected. Gold fell to around $1,120 an ounce.
Health-insurance stocks also rose after Senate Democrats agreed to eliminate the so-called public option in favor of a scaled-back nonprofit plan.
3M shares advanced after Citigroup upgraded the Dow component to "buy" from "neutral." The move came a day after the company's shares fell more than 1 percent when it issued an outlook that disappointed investors.
The company was among a handful of Dow gainers, while General Electric and DuPont were at the bottom of the Dow pack.
Stocks had opened lower amid worries that spanned the globe, from Spain to Dubai and Japan.
The S&P slashed its credit outlook for Spain to "negative" from "stable," saying the nation will experience more prolonged economic weakness than other nations.
That came after Fitch downgraded its credit rating on Greece a day earlier.
And in Dubai, Emaar Properties, the developer building the world's tallest skyscraper there, called off a merger with Dubai Holdings, the real-estate arm controlled by Dubai's ruler, exacerbating concerns about the emirate's debt problems. Dubai stocks fell for a third straight day, losing more than 6 percent today.
Adding insult to injury, scientists now say one of Dubai's palm-shaped islands, the Palm Jumeirah, may be sinking.
Japan said its economy grew at a much slower pace than first reported in the third quarter — 0.3 percent compared with 1.2 percent — thought a double-dip recession isn't expected.
Here in the U.S., wholesale inventories rose 0.3 percentin October, the first increase in over year.
An earlier report showed applications for home loans rose 8 percent last week to the highest level in two months as many homeowners sought to lock into low rates through refinancing.
Chip stocks took a hit after Texas Instruments said late Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue would be at the high end of its projected range but some investors had expected more.
Research In Motion shares advanced as traders bet on the BlackBerry maker's growth in China.
Dubai's troubles are likely to remain an overhang to the markets today, however, as the cost of insuring Dubai's debt against default is rising sharply this morning. That comes as investment arm Dubai World's property subsidiary, Nakheel, showed a 7 percent jump in liabilities to about $20 billion.
Following strong demand at its 3-year note auction yesterday, the Treasury follows up today by selling $21 billion in 10-year notes, with a high yield of 3.448 percent and a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.62.
The TARP program remains in the news, after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner requested that the program be extended into 2010.