Wall Street strode higher Tuesday, rallying along with insurance stocks on Marsh & McLennan's decision to fire its chief executive in the face of an ongoing probe. Blue chips added 138 points as relief that the investigation would not result in criminal charges against the company offset higher oil prices and weak economic data.
"I would say half of it is relief over the insurance stocks and the other half is end-of-October bargain hunting. People want to sell their losers and ride the winners," said Matt Kelmon, portfolio manager of Kelmoore Strategy Funds.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 138.49, or 1.4 percent, to 9888.48. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 16.29, or 1.5 percent, to 1111.09. The Nasdaq composite index climbed 14.75, or 0.8 percent, to 1928.79.
Worries about job prospects drove consumer confidence lower for a third consecutive month, according to the latest reading by the Conference Board.
Marsh & McLennan shares climbed $2.45, or 9.3 percent, to $28.87, on news that New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer did not plan to pursue criminal action against the company, but might press charges against individuals instead. Other insurers also rallied. American International Group rose $4.23, or 7.5 percent, to $60.33.
General Electric gained 73 cents, to $33.63, as it backed Wall Street's view of its fourth-quarter and full-year profit forecasts, citing strength across its various divisions. Halliburton climbed $1.38, or 4 percent, to $35.73, even as the company swung to a loss, weighed down by continued asbestos claims settlements.
DuPont fell 78 cents, to $41.40, after the chemical company swung to a profit in the third quarter despite higher costs for raw materials. U.S. Steel rose $1.60, or 4.5 percent, to $37.45, after returning to profitability in the third quarter, thanks to higher demand.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 77.55, to 6598.45; the American Stock Exchange index rose 3.57, to 1311.57; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 5.94, to 577.61.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 5 to 2 on the NYSE, where trading volume rose to 1.69 billion shares, from 1.38 billion on Monday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advancers outnumbered decliners by 8 to 1 and volume totaled 1.8 billion, up from 1.58 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note fell $2.19 per $1,000 invested, and its yield rose to 4.00 percent, from 3.97 percent on Monday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and rose against the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 106.72 yen, down from 106.73 late Monday, and a euro bought $1.2771, down from $1.2804.
* Light, sweet crude oil for December delivery settled at $55.17, up 63 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $426.80 a troy ounce, from $429.00 on Monday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.