U.S. stocks rose on light volume on Monday as a better-than-expected quarterly profit and upbeat outlook from Lowe's Cos Inc , the No. 2 U.S. home improvement retailer, fueled hopes the economic slump was easing and spending was stabilizing.

Shares of Home Depot Inc , Lowe's top rival, rose 6.6 percent to $26.00 a day before the Dow component is scheduled to post quarterly earnings. Shares of Lowe's shot up 8.8 percent to $20.08.

Lowe's raised its full-year forecast due to signs that the decline in the housing market may be ebbing. Lowe's Chief Executive Robert Niblock said consumer confidence has improved in recent weeks, and housing turnover is showing signs of a bottom. Lowe's numbers also served as a fresh catalyst for investors eager to sustain the market's rally and were a sharp contrast to last week's disappointing April retail sales data. An S&P index of retail stocks <.RLX> gained 3.9 percent.

Shares of homebuilders got a lift from Citigroup's upgrade of Lennar Corp to buy from hold. Lennar shares jumped 16.9 percent to $10.30 and the Dow Jones home construction index <.DJUSHB> rose 6.8 percent.

Positive broker comments on Bank of America Corp also underpinned the market.

I definitely think (Lowe's news) helps. Home Depot is up and that helps the whole sector, said Todd Leone, head of listed trading at Cowen & Co in New York.

He said financial stocks have been the main market driver for most of the past year and on Monday, financials are acting a little bit better, (with) Bank of America leading the pack.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> advanced 175.62 points, or 2.12 percent, to 8,444.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 18.98 points, or 2.15 percent, to 901.86. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 34.23 points, or 2.04 percent, to 1,714.37.

The S&P 500 recently peaked from the 12-year low on March 9, jumping 37.4 percent as of May 8, but after giving up some ground last week, it was up 33 percent in Monday's trading.

In other broker research news, Goldman raised its recommendation on Bank of America's stock to buy. Separately, Citigroup said it now projects Bank of America posting a second-quarter profit instead of a loss.

Shares of Bank of America climbed 10.3 percent to $11.77 on the New York Stock Exchange, while the KBW Bank index <.BKX> gained 6.2 percent.

Among the Nasdaq's biggest advancers was chipmaker Qualcomm Inc , up 2.9 percent at $41.88.

Following positive broker comments on the semiconductor sector, the PHLX Semiconductor index <.SOXX> rose 2.9 percent.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)