Updated from 4:09 p.m. EDTBlue chips overcame a midsession stumble and bolted into the close Tuesday, while a gain in Apple ( AAPL) propped up the tech sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended a volatile session -- one that saw the index briefly dip into negative territory -- with a gain of 109.26 points, or 0.81%, to 13,676.23. A 2.9% decline in Wal-Mart ( WMT) put some pressure on the index, but it wasn't enough to keep the average from rallying. The S&P 500 added 13.26 points, or 0.88%, at 1519.59. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 45.33 points, or 1.65%, to 2799.26, thanks to strong earnings from Apple. Following the last close, the company blew away fiscal fourth-quarter estimates with its latest report, prompting several analysts to bump their stock price targets higher. UBS has now assigned a target of $220, while JMP Securities raised its target to $210 from $160. Shares of Apple jumped $11.80, or 6.8%, to end the day at $186.16. "A lot of the negative news was wrung out of the market today, as some positive earnings reports alleviated fears," said Edgar Peters, chief market strategist with Pan Agora. "A lot of these earnings reports showed that the consumer was still spending, which is good news. We had been oversold and people were too pessimistic, so today we righted things again."
Breadth was positive for a second day. On the New York Stock Exchange 3.15 billion shares changed hands, as advancers topped decliners by a 2-to-1 margin. Volume on the Nasdaq reached 2.30 billion shares, with winners outpacing losers nearly 3 to 2. Airlines, energy and the transportation sector were among the winners of the day, while the chip group was one of the worst performers. The Amex Airlines Index jumped 2.8%, the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index rose 2.8%, and the Dow Jones Transportation Average was higher by 2%. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector Index lost 0.4%. Apple offset negative news from Texas Instruments ( TXN), which gave weak fourth-quarter guidance that overshadowed its third-quarter earnings beat. UBS, JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, among others, downgraded the stock because of the disappointing outlook, and TI finished 8.3% lower at $31.43. Traders also pored over several Dow components that were posting quarterly results. AT&T ( T) reported a 13% jump in third-quarter earnings from a year ago, thanks in part to sales of Apple's iPhone. AT&T gained 85 cents, or 2.1%, to close at $42.02. Elsewhere, DuPont ( DD) exceeded forecasts with its third-quarter report and raised its full-year outlook, but was cautious on the U.S. After the previous bell, American Express ( AXP) said it earned $1.06 billion, or 90 cents a share, in the last quarter, topping estimates. DuPont rose 0.5% to $46.81, and American Express gained 3.2% to $58.66.
As for other companies posting quarterly results, Lockheed Martin ( LMT) and UPS ( UPS) beat Wall Street's expectations. Shares of Lockheed were off 0.3% at $106.97, while UPS was 0.7% higher at $75.64. On the other hand, Biogen Idec ( BIIB) and specialty retailer Coach ( COH) offered disappointing results. Biogen shares slipped 1.5% to close at $78.93, and Coach dropped 11.7% to $36.60. After the close, Amazon.com ( AMZN) and Juniper ( JNPR) topped analysts' expectations. Away from earnings, Research in Motion ( RIMM) surged 9.8% after it announced a distribution deal for its Blackberry smartphones in China. The stock closed at $124.53, a new record high. With no economic releases scheduled, Treasury prices ended a see-saw day higher. The 10-year note was up 6/32 in price, yielding 4.39%. The 30-year bond added 2/32 in price, yielding 4.69%. Commodities were mixed. The newly benchmarked December crude contract slid 75 cents to end at $85.27 a barrel. Gold and silver futures were on the upswing as the dollar was softer against the world's major currencies. Overseas markets rallied after the previous day's selloff. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 3.5% overnight, and Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.1%. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 rose 0.9%, and Germany's Xetra Dax was up 0.6%.