Stocks rose Wednesday after the president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank signaled the central bank could change its interest rate policy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Anthony M. Santomero called increasing oil prices a "tax" and said in a television interview that it was too early to say whether the Fed would change its interest rate policy in light of hurricane damage.
Many traders took Santomero's comment as a signal that the Fed's year-plus streak of rate increases might end sooner than expected.
Falling oil prices also helped stocks. After closing at $69.81 a barrel on Tuesday, oil settled Wednesday at $68.94, down 32 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68.78, or 0.66 percent, to 10,481.60.
Broader stock indicators were sharply higher. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 11.92, or 0.99 percent, to 1220.33, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.33, or 1.05 percent, to 2152.09.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 4.01 percent, from 4.10 percent late Tuesday. Ten-year notes had closed at 4.17 percent late Monday.
The U.S. dollar was mixed against other major currencies in European trading. Gold prices were higher.
Exxon Mobil rose $1.29, to $59.90, Chevron rose 86 cents, to $61.40 and ConocoPhillips rose $1.53, to $65.94.
Fluor rose $3.34, to $61.91, Jacobs Engineering Group rose $4.23, to $62.40, Washington Group International rose $3.02, to $52.84, and Foster Wheeler rose $2.24, to $26.90. The engineering and construction firms expect a lot of business rebuilding in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Hartford Financial Services fell 10 cents, to $73.05, and Allstate fell 43 cents, to $56.21.
AMR, parent of American Airlines, fell 10 cents, to $12.59. Delta Air Lines fell 4 cents, to $1.16.
Boeing rose 28 cents, to $67.02.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 99.03, to 7496.09.
American Stock Exchange index rose 31.96, to 1655.95.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 10.26, to 666.51.
NYSE: 2.36 billion shares, up from 1.9 billion on Tuesday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 13 to 4.
Nasdaq: 1.68 billion shares, up from 1.25 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 9 to 4.
Crude oil for October delivery: $68.94, down 87 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $433.80 a troy ounce, up from $431.20 on Tuesday.