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Dow Reaches Another Record

Stocks rise modestly ahead of the start of earnings season.

Updated from 3:27 p.m. EDT

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

reached record highs again Tuesday as stocks posted moderate gains ahead of the start of earnings season.

The Dow finished the session up 9.36 points, or 0.08%, at 11,867.17, topping the previous closing high of 11,866.69 set Thursday. The index also hit an intraday high of 11,877.90, surpassing the previous record of 11,872.94 established on Monday.

Gains of 1.3% or more in

American Express

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,

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

and

Intel

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buoyed the Dow.

The

TheStreet Recommends

S&P 500

added 2.76 points, or 0.2%, at 1353.42, and the

Nasdaq Composite

finished higher by 3.66 points, or 0.16%, to 2315.43.

The indices' gains were in part hemmed in by "cautious optimism" about third-quarter earnings and consolidation ahead of the releases, said Jay Suskind, head of institutional equity trading at Ryan Beck.

"We also continue to see a tug-of-war between those who think the economy is in for a soft landing against those who expect a hard landing," he added. "All of this is lending to our sideways movement."

Volume improved from Monday's levels. About 2.48 billion shares changed hands on the

New York Stock Exchange

. Advancers beat decliners by an 8-to-7 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq was 1.81 billion shares, with winners beating losers 8 to 7.

On Monday, traders shrugged off North Korea's escalating nuclear ambitions and the prospect of OPEC production cuts, and the market closed slightly positive. The Dow finished the session up 7.60 points, or 0.06%, to 11,857.81, the S&P 500 tacked on 1.08 points, or 0.08%, at 1350.66, and the Nasdaq added 11.78 points, or 0.51%, at 2311.77.

"The Dow and S&P 500 have taken a bit of a breather over the three trading days since last Wednesday's big advance," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "This has been a strong uptrend, so pullbacks have been buying opportunities. Trouble may be just around the corner, but for now the trend remains up."

To view Farnoosh Torabi's video take on today's market, click here

After the bell, the third-quarter earnings season got off to a shaky start after

Alcoa

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posted results that missed analysts' targets. The Dow component and economic bellwether reported earnings of $537 million, or 61 cents a share, up 86% from the previous year. Revenue jumped 19% to $7.6 billion from a year ago.

According to Thomson First Call, analysts expected EPS of 77 cents on revenue of $7.7 billion. Alcoa closed higher by 30 cents, or 1.1%, to $28.29 ahead of the report.

Also after Tuesday's close,

Genentech

(DNA)

posted a third-quarter profit of $568 million, or 53 cents a share, up $359 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $2.38 billion from $1.75 billion last year. Earnings from continuing operations reached 59 cents a share, beating analysts' target, but revenue fell short of targets, sending the stock down more than 2% in the after-hours session.

Among the big movers in the regular session was

Google

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, which said after the close Monday that it would buy the video-sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion. The stock-for-stock deal should close in the fourth quarter. Google closed down $2.35, or 0.6%, to $426.65, reversing earlier strength.

Staples

(SPLS)

reiterated its previous third-quarter guidance of earnings-per-share growth of 15% to 20%, in line with average analyst estimates. For the full year, the office-supplies retailer also expects profit growth to match estimates. Staples tacked on 12 cents, or 0.5%, to finish at $26.25.

CVS

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said business trends have been strong, and the drugstore chain raised its third-quarter and full-year projections by 3 cents a share. CVS finished unchanged at $29.72.

Meanwhile,

D.R. Horton

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said net sales orders for the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 fell to 10,430 homes from 13,950 homes in the same period last year. The company's cancellation rate for the fourth quarter was 40%, up from 29% in the third quarter.

JPMorgan Chase upgraded D.R. Horton and

Standard Pacific

(SPF)

to overweight from neutral, sending both stocks higher. The firm also raised

Toll Brothers

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to neutral from underweight. All three upgrades aided the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index, which gained 2%.

As for commodities, most moved lower. Oil fell by $1.44 to finish at $58.52 a barrel, its lowest close since July 2005. Gold was down $6.60 at $576.20 an ounce, and silver slipped 20 cents to close at $11.22 an ounce.

Treasuries were weaker across the board, with the 10-year note dropping 14/32 in price to yield 4.75%. The 30-year bond was sliding 23/32 and yielding 4.88%.

On the economic docket, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 1.1% in August, beating economists' forecasts of a 0.6% increase.

Equities strengthened overseas. Tokyo's Nikkei was up 0.3% to 16,477.25, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.8% to 17,823.70. London's FTSE added 0.7% to 6073, and Frankfurt's Xetra DAX was higher by 0.6% to 6118.