Stocks Rally to the Finish; Dow Gains 2%

Stocks kicked off August with a rally, finishing at their highest level in 10 weeks, after a better-than-expected manufacturing reading and some strong bank earnings out of Europe.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 208.44, or 2 percent, to close at 10,674.38. All 30 Dow components finished higher.

The S&P 500 gained 2.2 percent, while the Nasdaqclimbed 1.8 percent. The CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was below 22 at the closing bell.

This came after Wall Street wrapped up its best month in a year Friday after the earnings season rounded the final turn with a group of strong results that offset the impact of poor economic data.

Energy and materials led the way today, as the dollar fell, sending oil prices to their highest close in three months. Alcoa and ExxonMobil were the top gainers on the Dow.

Some market pros said energy stocks were also helped by the fact that they were overly beaten down during the BP oil spill.

BP shares rose 2.5 percent amid expectations that the company could start plugging its broken deep-sea oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday night, more than three months after its rupture led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Bank of America rose nearly 3 percent as banks got a boost after Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, beat earnings expectations as did France's largest bank, BNP Paribas. Both banks reported lower provisions for bad debt — HSBC went so far as to say it saw its lowest level of bad debt since the beginning of the financial crisis during the quarter.

Coca-Cola advanced 2.4 percent after JPMorgan upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "neutral," citing strength in emerging markets and expectations of improvement in developed markets. An article in Barron's suggested the stock could rise 10 percent or more in the next year after the company cited North America as a growth market.

Fordshares gained 3.1 percent following news that the auto maker has completed the sale of its Volvo unitto China's Geely for $1.8 billion, capping China's biggest purchase of a foreign car maker.

Auto makers were mostly higher ahead of July sales results from the sector, due out on Tuesday. Analysts expect to see a 2.8-percent increasein auto sales from June.

Shares of Visa and MasterCard fell after telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon said they are planning a venture to get consumers to use smartphones as a mobile-payment system instead of relying on debit and credit cards.

Investors will get a good read on the consumer on Tuesday, with July personal income and spending due out before the bell, plus earnings reports from a handful of consumer names including MasterCard, Procter & Gamble, Clorox and Coach.

Other notable earnings include Pfizer, Anadarko Petroleum and CBS.

In today's economic news, the ISM reported its manufacturing gauge fell to 55.5 in July from 56.2 in June, but that came in better than the 54 economists had expected, according to Reuters. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. And construction spending rose 0.1 percent in June.

This came after reports showed euro-zone manufacturing growth accelerated in July, while China's manufacturing sector cooled further.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday that high unemployment and a weak housing market are weighing on consumers and limiting the recovery.Bernanke's comments came as he spoke with state legislators about the struggles facing budget-strained state and municipal governments.

"We have a considerable way to go to achieve full recovery in our economy, and many Americans are still grappling with unemployment, foreclosure, and lost savings," Bernanke said.

Research In Motion shares fell following news that more than a million BlackBerry users may have key services in Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut offafter authorities stepped up demands on smartphone maker access to encrypted messages sent over the device.

CNBC's parent company General Electric and tech giant Intel will be forming a joint venture to focus on technology that will remotely deliver health care to seniors with chronic conditions, to help lower patients' medical costs. The two firms have been working on health-care products together since April 2009.

Corning jumped 5.7 percent following news that the company's so-called Gorilla glass, a super strong glass first invented in 1962, might become a multi-million dollar product, sought for touch-screen tablets and frameless high-end TVs for its strength.

MetLife doesn't expect to get as big a boost as it had expected from buying Alico, AIG's foreign life-insurance business. The life insurer said its operating earnings per share for the year now will rise 40 cents to 45 cents per share. Previously MetLife said it would get a 45 to 55 cent-per-share boost to its 2011 profit.

On the M&A front, French financial holding firm Eurazeo said on Saturday it is in exclusive talks to sell its B&B Hotels chain to U.S. private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

Volume was light, typical for August, with just over 1 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 11 to 2.

This Week:

TUESDAY: July auto sales; personal income & spending; pending home sales; factory orders; Blackberry & AT&T news conf.; Earnings from Pfizer and MasterCard
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; challenger job-cut report; ADP employment report; ISM services index; weekly oil inventories; AmEx analyst meeting; Earnings from Toyota, Time Warner and Allstate
THURSDAY: July chain-store sales; Fed hearing on new mortgage regulations; BoE announcement; ECB announcement; weekly jobless claims
FRIDAY: Fed hearing on new bank regulations; July jobs report; consumer credit

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