Financials Push Higher; AmEx, JPMorgan Gain

Stocks made another push higher Tuesday afte a shaky start as UPS delivered an encouraging earnings report, pending home sales rose and Wall Street braced for a hearing on the "Volcker Rule" later today.

Investors shrugged off an encouraging housing report and earnings from UPS.

Among 10 key S&P sectors, industrials, energy and materials led the advance as pending-home sales rose 1 percent in December and oil pushed above $75 a barrel.

Alcoa led the Dow for a second day, after yesterday's better-than-expected ISM reporton manufacturing.

Financials American Express , which has been hammered this year, and JPMorgan rose to the No. 2 and No. 3 spots on the Dow.

On Monday, late buzz that Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama came out against the Volcker rule, which threatened to derail bipartisan support for financial reform and triggered a late surge in stocks — notably, financials.

The Senate finance committee hearing on the Volcker rule will take place this afternoon. This morning, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is testifying before the panel on President Obama's proposed budget.

UPS posted a profit of 75 cents a sharethat narrowly beat market estimates. The company also projected a jump for 2010.

Homebuilder D.R. Horton surprised the market by posting a profit after analysts had forecast a loss, though it was due largely to the first-time homebuyers' tax credit.

And Dow Chemicalbeat analyst estimateson both the top and bottom lines but the stock skidded.

Ann Taylor shares shot up 12 percent at the open after the women's clothing retailer said its fourth-quarter sales and gross margins were better than expected and will enable earnings to exceed expectations.

Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs put Advanced Micro Devices on its "conviction sell list" on belief the chipmaker will continue to lose money.

Overall, techs were flat but Palm umped over 3 percent after another Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the stock. This came a day after another brokerage, Merriman Curhan,started coverage of the stock at "neutral," saying the latest versions of the Pre and Pixi have revitalized the company.

And Research In Motion which received an upgrade to "buy" from Standpoint Research on Monday, rose more than 1 percent.

Google shares were flat after a Wall Street Journal report that the Internet titan is preparing to launch an online business software store.

U.S. automakers will report their January sales figures, beginning with Ford around the midday mark. They'll be watched closely for several reasons: to see if overall sales trends have improved and to see what kind of impact Toyota's recent recall problems may have had on its sales.

Electric car maker Tesla is expected to price its IPO later this week, in what will be the auto industry's first IPO since Ford debuted in 1956.

Reuters reports that private equity firms KKR, Bain, and TPG are the finalists for Morgan Stanley's $1 billion stake inCICC, China's top investment bank.

This Week:

TUESDAY: Academy Award nominees announced; Madoff liquidation hearing; Volcker, Geithner testify; pending-home sales; auto sales; Earnings from BP, UPS (preannouncement), ADP and News Corp.
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; Challenger and ADP job-cuts reports; ISM services index; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Warsh speaks; Earnings from Pfizer, International Paper, Time Warner, Cisco, Visa and Yum Brands
THURSDAY: Senate hearing on NBC-Comcast; Tea Party Convention; chain-store sales; ECB, BOE announcements; weekly jobless claims; factory orders; Earnings from GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Kellogg, MasterCard, Northrop Grmman, Sony, Unilever and Burger King
FRIDAY: Earnings from Aetna and Tyson Foods

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