After the long weekend, major U.S. stock indices have seen three straight days of rallying as rising commodities prices boosted the basic materials sector on Thursday.

Technology firms and defense contractors also performed well.

The S&P 500 Index closed up 7.24 points, or 0.66 percent, at 1,106.75.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 83.66 points, or 0.81 percent, to close at 10,392.90.  The Nasdaq Composite closed up 0.69 percent. 

Commodities prices continue to rise today.  NYMEX March crude oil futures rose 2.43 percent to $79.21 and February Comex copper rose 1.62 percent. 

The American Depository Receipts (ADRs) of Vale (NYSE:VALE.P) rose 2.05 percent, Nucor (NYSE:NUE) rose 2.78 percent, and Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) rose 2.48 percent. 

Tech stocks today were buoyed by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) earnings.  The firm reported earnings of $2.3 billion for the quarter, a 25 percent year-on-year increase.  Excluding onetime items, its EPS would be $1.10, beating analyst expectations.

Hewlett-Packard closed up 1.38 percent.  Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) rose 2.81 percent, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) gained 1.33 percent, and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) gained 1.41 percent. 

Defense contractors were also among the best performers today as Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) gained 2.62 percent and General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) gained 2.40 percent.

The stock market on Thursday was buoyed by a rising Philly Fed Manufacturing Index, which has expanded for the sixth straight month.  However, economic data was mixed as unemployment claims unexpectedly soared by 31,000 to 473,000.

After the market closed on Thursday, the Federal Reserve announced that it will raise its discount rate from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent.  Although the move was widely expected, according to the Wall Street Journal, most stocks, especially financial industry firms, are down in after-hours trading. 

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