Stocks Rise as Confidence Jumps; Verizon Gains

Stocks advanced Tuesday after a jump in consumer confidence and encouraging read on housing. Tech and telecom were the big trading story on news of a new Apple iPhone.

The Dow rose about 20 points at the opening bell, topping 10,900, led by Verizon , 3M and DuPont .

Apple shook up the smartphone world, saying it's designing a new iPhone that will work on Verizon's network.

AT&T was the Dow's biggest decliner as such a product would end the company's monopoly in the smartphone market.

What many market pros are calling "the stealth rally" or "the meltup" continued on Wall Street Monday, with another day of modest gains that pushed the Dow to its highest close since September 26, 2008.

European shares were mixed and lacked direction, but mining shares remained in demand. Asian indexes were mainly green at the close with commodity-related stocks getting a boost.

An encouraging sign on the housing front: The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index fell just 0.7 percentyear-over-year, roughly in-line with estimates. And prices rose 0.3 percent from December to January, the eighth-straight gain.

And the Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence jumped to 52.5 in March from 46.4 in February, well above the 51 economists had expected.

No major earnings news today but investors are keeping an eye on Research In Motion , which reports on Wednesday after the bell. Earnings season gets into full swing the week of April 12.

Boston Scientific skidded after the company, which pulled its implantable heart defibrillators a few weeks ago said this morning it may be a few more weeksbefore it begins selling them again as regulators review changes to its manufacturing process.

And shares of Eli Lilly rose after the company said it plans to launch 15 new products in China in the next five years.

JC Penney was identified in court papers as another victim of computer hacker Albert Gonzalez, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week for leading the theft of more than 40 million credit card numbers. (The retailer's computers were attacked, but no custumer data wast taken).

Ford shares opened lower ahead of the company's analyst meeting today.

Toyota launched its promised quality control task force, while NASA joined the probe of Toyota's electronic systems for any possible cause of unintended acceleration.

And Nissan said it will sell its battery powered Leaf model at more than $40,000 in Japan, putting it well above the price of Toyota's best-selling Prius.

On the sovereign debt front, Fitch Ratings said the EU's deal to aid Greece is positive, but longer term questions still remain for the country.

And HSBC , one of Dubai World's largest creditors, said it welcomes a restructuring plan put forth by the state-owned conglomerate, and expects positive results from that plan.

This Week:

TUESDAY: Ford analyst meeting; consumer confidence
WEDNESDAY: Fed ends mortgage-buyback, TALF programs; weekly mortgage apps; ADP employment report; Chicago PMI; factory orders; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Lockhart speaks; Feinberg speaks; Earnings from Dollar General, Rite Aid, Research In Motion
THURSDAY: March auto sales; Challenger job-cuts report; weekly jobless claims; construction spending; ISM manufacturing index
FRIDAY: March jobs report; Stock market closed in observance of Good Friday; Bond market closes at noon

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