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Stocks Ease Off Highs But Hold to Gains

Stocks in New York have edged off their highs of the morning but continue to trade with solid wins as voters choose the next U.S. president.

Updated from 1:59 p.m. EST

Stocks in New York were rallying but had eased off their earlier highs Tuesday afternoon as traders sorted through some encouraging

quarterly earnings reports

and polls across the nation opened for the U.S. presidential election.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was gaining 190 points to 9510, and the

S&P 500

was up 26 points to 992. The

Nasdaq

was tacking on 31 points to 1758.

"I wouldn't hang my hat on it," said Chris Johnson, CEO and chief investment strategist for Johnson Research, of today's rally in the major averages. He said that the markets have lately been extremely oversold and that recent upward price action has been on fairly low volume. "This is a step in the right direction, but it's certainly not the green light we've been looking for in terms of the longer-term opportunity."

Johnson said that the election has largely been priced into the market. "In the current economic environment I don't think you're going to see huge tax increases coming down the road," he said. He said he's watching for whether the Democrats win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, which would grant them substantial power to institute broad changes. "That's the thing where everybody's saying, 'look out,'" he said.

" In a year when you can feel like there's nothing but uncertainty ... at least

the election is one thing that we'll know is over," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management. He said he's more encouraged by the market's recent ability to "rally, or not crater, despite really bad economic news across the board," and he doesn't expect there to be much encouraging data in the fourth quarter.

A series of solid corporate earnings results were bolstering investor enthusiasm. Following Monday's close, credit-card company

MasterCard

(MA) - Get Report

took a net loss on charges related to its settlement of a legal scuffle with

Discover Financial Services

(DFS) - Get Report

. Excluding the charge, however, MasterCard's earnings trumped the Street's forecasts.

Meanwhile, energy company

Anadarko Petroleum

(APC) - Get Report

reported that third-quarter profit climbed year over year and beat analyst estimates.

Farm products maker

Archer Daniels Midland

(ADM) - Get Report

reported profit that more than doubled year over year.

Pharmacy operator

Walgreen

(WAG)

announced Tuesday that its October same-store sales climbed 2% year over year.

Media firm

Viacom

(VIA) - Get Report

wasn't so fortunate, as its earnings dropped 37% year over year.

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In the technology arena, cell-phone maker

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

announced that it will cut an estimated 450 jobs as it restructures its operations.

A series of reports on the state of the financial sector revealed a mixed bag. Ahead of the trading day,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that the

Treasury Department

is mulling taking equity positions in financial companies beyond banks and insurers. According to the report in the

Journal

,

General Electric's

(GE) - Get Report

GE Capital segment and

CIT Group

(CIT) - Get Report

are among businesses that may become eligible.

A

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

hedge fund lost $989 million since January, according to a report in the

Financial Times

.

Elsewhere in the financials, Swiss bank

UBS

(UBS) - Get Report

announced it swung to a profit for the third quarter. The profitable quarter follows four straight earnings periods marked by losses on writedowns tied to mortgage securities.

Credit markets were continuing to improve. Three-month dollar Libor, a measure of the rate banks charge one another for large loans, declined 15 basis points to 2.71%, its lowest level since

Lehman Brothers

declared bankruptcy. Overnight Libor fell one basis point to 0.38%.

Johnson said that the recent decline in Libor rates is a positive, but the rates have come down sharply from very high levels and it would be very difficult for them to go up from where they had been. "It's not a bad thing, it's an expected thing," he said of the easing in the credit markets.

Looking at the day's economic data, the Census Bureau's September factory orders numbers showed a decline of 2.5%, a narrower slide than 4.3% in August but worse than economists' forecast for a 0.8% decline..

In the realm of commodities, crude oil rose $6.62 to settle at $70.53 a barrel. Gold added $30.50 to close at $757.30 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were rising in price. The 10-year was adding 1-10/32 to yield 3.76%, and the 30-year was gaining 1-30/32, yielding 4.21%. The dollar was rising vs. the yen but declining rapidly against the euro and pound.

Overseas, European exchanges, including the FTSE in London and the Dax in Frankfurt, were broadly trading higher. As for Asian stocks, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed higher.

(

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