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) -- Stocks had a strong finish to the day after all three major indices hit 52-week highs on a better-than-expected read for April consumer confidence and encouraging earnings reports.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

finished up by 115 points, or 0.9%, at 12,595. The

S&P 500

was higher by 12 points, or 0.9%, at 1347, and the


was ahead by 22 points, or 0.8%, at 2848. The indicies all hit 52-week highs Tuesday.

Consumer confidence rose to a better-than-expected level of 65.4 in April after a March reading of 63.8, the Conference Board said. According to, economists had been forecasting an April reading of 64.4.

"The gain over the last month, while not substantial, is nonetheless encouraging given the recent spike in food and fuel prices," said Jim Baird, partner and chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors in a recent note. "The survey suggested that inflation expectations actually eased a bit, while consumers viewed current broad economic conditions more favorably for the seventh consecutive month."

Baird added that inflationary pressures pose the biggest near-term risk to consumer confidence and spending since higher prices could force consumers to make budget cuts, thereby slowing the pace of economic recovery.

Shares of airline carriers and railroads ended with some of the strongest gains, with


(SKYW) - Get Free Report

up 2.9% to $16.26 and


(RA) - Get Free Report

2.9% higher at $17.13.

On the Dow,

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Free Report



(CAT) - Get Free Report



(INTC) - Get Free Report



(MSFT) - Get Free Report



(MRK) - Get Free Report


United Technologies

(UTX) - Get Free Report

were traded at the top. Stocks such as

W&T Offshore

(WTI) - Get Free Report


Kindred Healthcare



Carpenter Technology

(CRS) - Get Free Report

ended ahead by 18%, 18% and 10%, respectively, as they hit 52-week highs.


(KO) - Get Free Report

, which missed expectations with adjusted earnings of 86 cents a share and sales of $10.51 billion, was the Dow's biggest laggard. The stock fell 1.2% at $66.93.

Basic materials stocks showed some of the weakest performance of the session. Shares of

United States Steel

(X) - Get Free Report

lost 4.1% at $49.72 after the company posted a

wider-than-expected loss in the first quarter.

Shares of

AK Steel

(AKS) - Get Free Report

, however, rose 6.4% to $16.96 after the

steel producer posted a surprise profit of 8 cents a share.

Dow component


(MMM) - Get Free Report

surpassed Wall Street's expectations with earnings of $1.49 a share on sales of $7.3 billion. The stock gained 1.9% to $95.94.

Shares of


(UPS) - Get Free Report

added 0.9% to $74.30 after the package delivery company beat analysts' profit estimates by 3 cents with earnings of 88 cents a share. Revenue of $12.58 billion, however, fell short of expectations for sales of $12.7 billion.

Shares of


(F) - Get Free Report

gained 0.8% to $15.66 after the automaker easily exceeded analysts' estimates for a first-quarter profit of 50 cents a share with adjusted earnings of 62 cents a share. Sales climbed to $33.1 billion, beating expectations for sales of $29.7 billion.


(UBS) - Get Free Report

jumped 5.7% to $19.74 after the

Swiss bank topped expectations with first-quarter net earnings of 1.81 billion Swiss francs ($2.05 billion).

Late Monday,


(NFLX) - Get Free Report

reported better-than-expected first-quarter results but forecast second-quarter earnings of between 93 cents and $1.15 a share, which was lower than the profit of $1.19 that analysts had been projecting. The stock lost 9% at $228.91.

(AMZN) - Get Free Report

is scheduled to report quarterly earnings after Tuesday's closing bell. Analysts are projecting earnings 61 cents a share. Shares fell 1.7% at $182.30.

Of the 907 million shares that traded on the New York Stock Exchange, 70% traded higher while 30% declined. Two billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq.

The Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee is coming together for a two-day meeting that will culminate in the release of its statement on monetary policy at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will also conduct a press briefing to discuss the statement and monetary policy on Wednesday. The market largely expects the Fed to end its asset-purchase program in June, but rising food and energy prices have caused increased uncertainty regarding the Fed's plan to keep inflation in check.

Home prices fell 3.33% in February after dropping 3.1% in January, according to the Case-Shiller 20-city index. The decline was slightly bigger than the 3.2% slump that analysts had projected, according to

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.5% and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.2%. London's FTSE gained 0.9% and the DAX in Frankfurt added 0.8%.

In commodity markets, the

June crude oil contract shed a penny to settle at $112.28 a barrel. The

June gold contract ended $5.60 lower at $1,503.50 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rose 14/32, diluting the yield to 3.309%. The

dollar weakened against a basket of currencies with the dollar index down by 0.2%.


--Written by Melinda Peer and Andrea Tse in New York


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.