Stocks rose and the dollar fell Tuesday afternoon after CEO's of the nation's seven largest banks tried to convince skeptical lawmakers that their firms are using funds received under the TARP program to boost lending and remain eager to help ease growing public rage over how aid from the taxpayers is being used.

Make no mistake: We are still lending, and we are lending far more because of the TARP, or Troubled Asset Relief Program, said Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis at the hearing, which featured eight top bankers.

Lawmakers pressed the assembled CEO's to place a moratorium on foreclosures for a three-week period while the Treasury puts the final touches on its mortgage modification plans. All agreed to do so.

On a technical level, the S&P declined today to just above Tuesday's low on 822.97, from where support was found as buyers came into the market. The low from Tuesday was reached today around 14:20 EST and the indexed closed with a 1.39% gain from that point.

At the close of floor trading on the NYSE, the DOW was on 7939.53 after gaining 50.65 points (0.64%) while the S&P finished on 833.74, up 6.58 points (0.80%). The technology-heavy NASDAQ fared the worst in terms of its percentage gain, closing on 1530.50 after gaining 5.77 points (0.38%).

The dollar traded risk-aversion mode after the S&P found support on Tuesday's low although it ended mixed on the day, gaining 0.2% on the euro and 1.15% against the pound while it fell 1.15% against Australia's currency and 0.11% the yen.

Bonds were mixed after the Treasury’s sale of a record $21 billion of 10-year notes drew the most bids in four months from a class of investors that includes foreign central banks. The yield on the 2-year note rose 2.8 basis points to 0.915% while yield on the benchmark 10-year note fell 5.1 basis points to 2.750% after rising to over 3% on Monday for the first time since November.

Crude oil for March delivery was recently trading down $1.50 (-3.99%) to $36.05 per barrel despite the weekly oil inventory report showing that demand for gasoline rose for a second week.

Gold for April continued its strong run and was recently trading up $26.30 (2.88%) to 940.00 per ounce on the theory that the precious metal will continue appreciating against all other asset classes.

Congress reduced the economic stimulus package to $789 billion and is planning to send it to President Obama for signature by the end of this week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said.

“The votes are there for passage, that is clear,” Baucus said, while cautioning that lawmakers are working out certain details. “Everyone is giving in here.”

It looks as if the Treasury will need to ask Congress for additional funds to help stabilize the financial sector.

I don't think the right answer is zero for the housing crisis and the financial sector, Sen. Kent Conrad said at a hearing with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Mr. Conrad noted that only $312.5 billion of the original $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program has yet to be committed. With Treasury having already committed a further $50 billion to deal with the housing crisis, Mr. Conrad said he would expect that more money may be needed.