Stocks Log Best Day in 3 Months as Dollar Drops

Stocks logged their best day in about three months Tuesday as weakness in the dollar boosted commodity stocks.

A better-than-expected manufacturing report and some decent earnings also helped.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 169.67, or 1.7 percent, to close at 10,268.81. It was the best point and percentage gain since Nov. 9.

The S&P 500 advanced 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1.4 percent.

Alcoa and Chevron were some of the Dow's best performers as the the dollar fell, boosting commodity prices. Oil jumped to $77.01 a barrel, while gold topped $1,120 an ounce.

Bank stocks got a boost, with Bank of America up nearly 5 percent, after British bank Barclays reported its earnings nearly doubledin 2009.

This came after the Dow dropped about 50 pointson Friday. The Dow and the S&P 500 have been unable to muster a two-day winning streak since February 1-2. But the major averages are slightly higher so far for the month of February.

And the National Association of Home Builders said its gauge of homebuilder confidence rose to 17 in February, after falling for two straight months.

The U.S. economy will likely grow about 3 percentover the next two years, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota said.

Among the other buzz in the market today was news that Simon Property Group offered to buy General Growth Properties for $10 billion, which would combine the nation's two largest mall operators.

One sign that the consumer remains under stress: Capital One reported its credit-card defaults roseagain in January.

Merck gained 2 percent after the drug maker hit its earnings target.

Kraft Foods was one of only two decliners on the Dow. The food giant edged past earnings expectations but revenue fell short.

Whole Foods shares rose ahead of its earnings, due out after the bell today.

Hewlett-Packard rose ahead of its results, slated for after the bell on Wednesday.

Intel shares gained 1.4 percent after Auriga raised its rating on the stock to "buy" from "hold" and raised its price target to $24, citing valuation and the potential for personal-computer sales.

Burger King shares gained 2.5 percent after the fast-food chain agreed to sell Starbucks coffee.

Toyota shares continued to slide after the Financial Times reported that the automaker will temporarily halt production at two U.S. factories due to slowing sales. Toyota is also planning an aggressive sales-incentive program for March.

Trading volume was light on this snowy first day back on Wall Street after a three-day weekend, with 7.59 billion shares changing hands on the NYSE, American Exchange and Nasdaq combined. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 5 to 1.

This Week:

TUESDAY: Earnings from Whole Foods after the bell
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; housing starts; import prices; industrial production; Fed's Plosser speaks; Fed minutes; Earnings from HP, ADI, Nvidia, Priceline
THURSDAY: PPI; weekly jobless claims; leading indicators; Philly Fed; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Duke, Lockhart & Bullard speak; Earnings from Wal-Mart, DirecTV, CBS and Dell
FRIDAY: CPI; Earnigns from JCPenney

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