Stocks Close on Bullish Note

Stocks finished higher on Tuesday as investors shrugged off weak economic data. Gregg Greenberg has The Real Story.
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NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Stocks finished higher on Tuesday as investors shrugged off weak economic data.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

see-sawed throughout the session, swinging intra-day by 158 points, as investors weighed weak consumer confidence data against more deal making activity. The blue-chip index ended 46 points, or 0.4% higher, at 10,858. The

S&P 500

gained 5 points, or 0.5%, to 1,147, while the

Nasdaq

rose 9 points, or 0.4%, to close at 2,379.

Within the Dow,

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

, was the biggest laggard, while

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

,

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Report

and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

were outperforming the other components.

Sentiment, which had been mixed throughout the day, turned decidedly positive towards the end of the trading session, with the advance-decline ratio improving to 7 to 3 from an even split earlier in the afternoon.

Material and healthcare stocks drove the market rally. Healthcare stocks were rising following

Walgreen's

(WAG)

better-than-expected results. Gold mining stocks were up as gold prices surged to a record, with

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

gained 2.5% to $64.23.

Barrick Gold

(ABX)

was up 2.2% to $46.76.

Mattel

(MAT) - Get Report

and

Lululemon Athletica

(LULU) - Get Report

were driving gains in consumer cyclicals.

Stocks wavered for most of the trading session following weak economic reports. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city

home price index grew 3.18% in July from a year earlier, falling short of expectations for an increase of 3.3%, according to Briefing.com. That compares to June's rise of 4.21%.

Consumer confidence fell to a reading of 48.5 in September, from August's level of 53.2, according to the Conference Board's index. The month's figure was well below the target of 53 that economists had been projecting, according to Briefing.com.

"Much like the unemployment rate, consumer confidence has been stuck in a sub-par range even as the economic recovery unfolded," said Jim Baird, partner and chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

"Until there is meaningful improvement in labor markets and great certainty that a double-dip recession will be averted and growth will reaccelerate, it seems highly unlikely that the sullen mood of consumers will be lifted," he added.

Doug Roberts of Channel Capital Research believes that the markets will stick to a broad trading range between 1010 and 1170 or 1180 on the S&P 500 until the third quarter results start pouring in. "Nimble traders will make money in this market. For others, it is going to be pretty frustrating," he said.

Roberts expects things to pick up after the elections. "If the Republicans takes the house, that will impede regulation and could offer an upside to the markets," he said.

In corporate news,

Monsanto

(MON)

saw shares slump 8% to $48.74 on continued concerns that SmartStax, the company's much-touted genetically modified product, won't be as impressive as hoped.

Shares of

Walgreen

(WAG)

were jumping 11.4% to $33.81 after the retail drugstore chain reported adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share, surpassing estimates for a profit of 44 cents. Sales of $16.9 billion also beat expectations for revenue of $16.8 billion.

DryShips

(DRYS) - Get Report

nabbed a deal with an unnamed U.S. oil company to use one of its energy exploration vessels off the coast of West Africa. The contract, which requires the vessel for 300 days, is worth $135 million. The ocean transport company's stock gained 8.5% to $4.85.

AOL

(AOL)

said it has agreed to acquire tech blog

TechCrunch

, without divulging further details of the buy. AOL shares climbed 2.6% to $24.15.

In more deal news,

Endo Pharmaceuticals

(ENDP) - Get Report

is acquiring

Qualitest Pharmaceuticals

, a privately held generics company, for roughly $1.2 billion in cash. Endo's stock advanced 8.1%, to $33.10.

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

said

Air China

plans to order four 777-300ERs for a total of $1.1 billion. Boeing's stock rose 0.9% higher, to $64.52.

BP

(BP) - Get Report

is planning a $3.5 billion bond sale, the

Associated Press

reported. A regulatory filing by the company said it plans to issue 5-year and 10-year notes but did not specify the size of the offer or its timing. The stock was up 1.5% to $39.29.

Barnes and Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

was up 0.2% to $16.49 after its shareholders re-elected chairman Leonard Reggio and rejected billionaire investor Ronald Burkle's plan to overturn a poison pill provision that limits individual stakes to 20%.

Social network

Facebook

will likely sell shares to the public after late 2012,

Reuters

reported, citing board member and

PayPal

co-founder Peter Thiel.

In commodity news, the American Petroleum Institute will issue its weekly read on crude oil inventories for the week ended Sept. 24 at 4:30 p.m. Analysts surveyed by Platts are anticipating a build of 2.2 million barrels.

The November delivery crude oil contract settled lower by 34 cents to trade at $76.18 a barrel.

Elsewhere in commodity markets, the December gold contract settled higher by $9.7, at $1,308.30 an ounce.

The dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.5%, while the benchmark 10-year Treasury note strengthened 22/32, diluting the yield to 2.455%.

Global markets were pressured by renewed eurozone debt concerns, which came amid rumors that Moody's is preparing a downgrade to Spain's debt, a day after the rating company delivered a three-notch cut to its rating on

Anglo Irish Bank

.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1%, and Japan's Nikkei lost 1.1%. The FTSE in London gained 0.09%, while the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.04%.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Shanthi Venkataraman in New York

.

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