U.S. stocks closed higher for a fourth straight day on Wednesday, sending the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its best finish so far this year as industrial and technology companies gained from a weak dollar.
The dollar's fall to a 2009 low helped to make U.S. products more competitive in overseas markets. Industrials, such as earth-moving equipment maker Caterpillar Inc
Tech stocks were among the big gainers, with Google Inc
But Nasdaq's advance was limited by Apple Inc
The weak dollar seems to be the new catalyst in the market, said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in New Jersey.
(Market) participants are putting more risk on the table and bidding up the stock market, Morganlander said, suggesting that more investors are shifting their money to riskier assets like stocks as the greenback loses ground.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 49.88 points, or 0.53 percent, at 9,547.22. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 7.98 points, or 0.78 percent, at 1,033.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 22.62 points, or 1.11 percent, at 2,060.39.
Wednesday's close for the S&P index was the highest since October 6 when it ended at 1,056.89.
The dollar's fall pushed oil up, allowing U.S. crude to settle at $71.31 a barrel and helping gold to trade near $1,000 an ounce.
Dow's top boost was Boeing
Goldman Sachs upgraded Illinois Tool Works
GE shares gained 2.6 percent to $14.87 while Illinois Tool was up 5 percent to $43.93. The S&P Industrials sector <.GSPI> gained 1.55 percent and was the top percentage gainer among S&P sectors.
Also among tech shares, Ebay Inc
The Federal Reserve's Beige Book survey showed half of Federal Reserve districts saw evidence the U.S. economy had improved by the end of August, but labor markets remained weak and retail sales were flat overall.
After the closing bell, shares of Texas Instruments
Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange where 1.24 billion shares changed hands, below last year's estimated daily average of 1.49 billion.
On the Nasdaq, however, about 2.51 billion shares traded, above last year's daily average of 2.28 billion.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 21 to 8. On the Nasdaq, about 18 stocks rose for every 7 that fell. (Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)