St. Patrick's Day Rally Sees Stocks Go Green

Updated from 3:25 p.m. EDT

Stocks in New York hung onto their slice of green on St. Patrick's day, with tech leading the charge.

The day brought surprisingly positive housing data, but also daunting outlooks from some key industrial stocks.

Alcoa ( AA) fell 9.3% after cutting its dividend, but that wasn't enough to hold down the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose 179.53, or 2.5%, to 7396.50. The S&P 500 added 24.19 points, or 3.2%, to 778.08. The Nasdaq fared the best, adding 58.09 points, or 4.1%, to 1462.11.

Chipmakers were on the move, with National Semiconductor ( NSM) adding 6%, and Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD) tacking on 11%.

Since the latest lows, we've "had every administration official that can get in front of a camera say no banks are going to fail, and it's starting to take hold," says Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist for Cantor Fitzgerald. Also, "we've now had several banks report that they were profitable so far this year," he says, and that can't hurt.

"Since then, you had strong leadership in technology, not only did it not come close to taking out the November low, but it's also been very strong in this rally," says Pado. "When you see money flowing into tech, it says we're starting to have some faith that when we see growth these are the companies that are going to outperform later this year."

In other tech news Tuesday, Apple ( AAPL) introduced new iPhone applications, while Dell ( DELL) released its Adamo, the latest of the ultra-thin notebook trend.

A report from the Commerce Department offered a nice start to the day, showing that new-home construction and building permit applications both rose in February vs. expectations that those metrics would fall to new record lows.

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