Stocks notched their first back-to-back gains this month yesterday, benefiting from a General Motors agreement to cut health care costs and a Supreme Court ruling favoring tobacco companies.
Rallies in GM, the largest U.S. automaker, and Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris, enabled the Dow Jones industrial average to outpace the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and the Nasdaq composite index. The latter two gauges moved higher in the final hour of trading on anticipation that third-quarter results this week would also brighten the outlook for profits.
"We're coming into a week with a tremendous amount of earnings data, and so far the market has a better tone," said Mark Bronzo, who helps manage $1 billion at Gartmore Separate Accounts in Irvington, N.Y.
The Dow rose 60.76, or 0.6 percent, to 10,348.10. It posted a two-day gain of 1.3 percent, the biggest such rally in more than five weeks. The S&P 500 gained 3.53, or 0.3 percent, to 1190.10. The benchmarks had their first consecutive gains since Sept. 30. The Nasdaq rose 5.47, or 0.3 percent, to 2070.30.
GM increased $2.11, or 7.5 percent, to $30.09, for the best performance in the Dow average. GM's agreement with the United Auto Workers bolstered optimism that rivals will also be able to lower health care costs. Ford Motor gained 5 cents, to $8.66.
Altria rallied $4.30, or 6.1 percent, to $74.96. The Supreme Court refused to revive a Justice Department bid for $280 billion from the tobacco industry. Reynolds American surged $5.06, to $83.80. Loews, owner of Kent and Newport cigarettes, rose $3.14, to $91.44.
Wachovia gained 27 cents, to $48.12. The No. 4 U.S. bank had third-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' estimates.
Charles Schwab Corp. rose 21 cents, to $13.34, after reporting third-quarter profit that beat expectations.
Mattel declined 72 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $15.23, for the worst performance in the S&P 500. The toymaker's third-quarter profit fell short of estimates.
New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 8.25, to 7370.84.
American Stock Exchange index rose 3.86, to 1623.65.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 0.22, to 633.37.
NYSE: 2.04 billion shares, down from 2.2 billion on Friday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 7 to 6.
Nasdaq: 1.29 billion shares, down from 1.56 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 9 to 8.
Crude oil for November delivery: $64.36, up $1.73.
Gold for current delivery: $474.10 a troy ounce, up from $469.20 on Friday.