Stocks rallied on Tuesday, led by the tech, industrial and materials sectors, driving the Dow and the S&P 500 to 18-month highs.
Signs of improved demand in the semiconductor industry and a broker's positive commentary on Caterpillar lifted blue chips, while tech bellwethers Apple and Cisco hit 52-week highs, indicating increased optimism among investors. Kraft
Industrials have been among the best performers so far this year, so they're getting a lot of the momentum money, said John Massey, portfolio manager at SunAmerica Asset Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. I think it's clear we're on an upward path.
The S&P industrials sector<.GSPI> was the S&P 500's best-performing sector, with the S&P materials sector <.GSPM> also lending support. Both indexes ended slightly above 1 percent.
Semiconductor stocks were also strong performers, lifting the Nasdaq. The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOXX> rose 2.3 percent, while Intel Corp
According to Stifel Nicolaus, which cited a media report, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 102.94 points, or 0.95 percent, to 10,888.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 8.36 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1,174.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shot up 19.84 points, or 0.83 percent, to 2,415.24.
The Dow chalked up its 10th day of gains out of the past 11 sessions.
The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> ended at its highest level since August 18, 2008, or about a month before Lehman Brothers collapsed during the credit crisis.
Brazilian mining giant Vale
U.S.-listed shares of Vale gained 5.1 percent to $31.57 while among U.S. metal companies, U.S. Steel Corp
Existing home sales fell to an annual rate of 5.02 million units in February, the National Association of Realtors said. The decline was less than forecast, but highlighted the fragility of a housing recovery.
It's incremental good news that it was better than expected, but given the huge overhang of inventory, it's clear that housing will remain a troubled sector for awhile, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank in Chicago.
Builder KB Home
Healthcare stocks lagged, giving back some of Monday's gains after U.S. President Barack Obama signed the landmark healthcare reform bill into law on Tuesday.
The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor index <.HMO> dropped 0.3 percent and Cigna Corp
U.S.-listed shares of Baidu Inc
About 8.03 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year's estimated daily average of 9.65 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of a little more than 2 to 1. On the Nasdaq, roughly two stocks rose for every one that fell.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)