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Stocks Are Little Changed In Early Trading

By STEVE ROTHWELL

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Materials and energy companies led the stock market higher Tuesday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to its second all-time high in a week.

The Dow closed at 14,673.46, a gain of 59.98 points, or 0.4 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index also rose 0.4 percent, closing less than two points below its own all-time high set April 2.

The prices of metals like copper, gold and silver have rebounded this week after slumping for the first three months of the year on waning demand. Oil is also rising following a sharp decline last week.

"You're seeing some pretty decent action in the overall market, with today's leadership coming from the basic materials sector," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Banyan Partners. "It's an area of the market that does represent some value because it's underperformed."

The rise in basic materials such as precious metals was caused by a weakening of the dollar against other currencies, HSBC analyst Howard Wen said. Commodities are typically priced in dollars and a decline in the currency allows overseas buyers to purchase materials at lower prices.

Materials companies were the biggest gainers of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, rising 1.1 percent. Energy companies posted the second best return, increasing 0.8 percent. Those two groups have been among the weakest in the market this year.

On Tuesday the S&P 500 rose 5.54 points to 1,568.61. The index closed at a record high of 1,570.25 on April 2. The Nasdaq composite gained 15.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,237.86.

The gains suggested that the Dow and S&P 500 may be poised to break out of a trading pattern they've followed for the last three weeks.

Stocks have mostly moved sideways since the middle of March. The Dow has alternated between small gains and losses after starting the year on a tear. Signs of slowing growth and concerns about the outlook for Europe had checked investors' confidence.

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