Shares of General Electric Co soared 15.9 percent on Tuesday amid a broad rally in U.S. stocks triggered by assurances from Citigroup Inc that the big bank was profitable through the first two months of 2009.

The rundown due to finance exposure has been excessive. It is still a very large, well operated industrial company and I think the pessimism about the finance sector has hurt the value of the stock much beyond reason, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at Oakbrook Investments in Lisle, Illinois, which holds about 1.7 million GE shares. Citigroup providing indication they expect they will earn a profit for the quarter has really ignited the rally for finance, and right now GE is benefiting from that.

GE shares rose $1.18 to $8.59. Over the past 52 weeks they have traded as high as $38.57 and as low as $5.87, an 18-year low hit last week.

Even with Tuesday's strong gains, shares of the U.S. conglomerate are down about 47 percent for the year, a steeper slide than the 22 percent fall of the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>.

The cost of insuring GE Capital's debt through credit-default swaps fell on Tuesday, according to Phoenix Partners Group. Investors were paying 9 percent upfront, meaning that it required an immediate $900,000 payment plus an additional $500,000 per year to ensure $10 million of GE debt for five years. At Monday's close they had stood at 12 percent upfront.

So far this year GE shareholders have digested a 68 percent cut to the company's quarterly dividend, to start in the second half, and are also anticipating a cut to its triple-A credit rating.

On Monday the company sold $8 billion of bonds under a program backed by the U.S. government. With that sale it has raised about $40 billion of the $45 billion it planned to seek from debt markets this year.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Nick Zieminski in New York; additional reporting by Dena Aubin in New York)

(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)