Stocks' Last-Hour Push Pays Off

Major indices rose in the final hour of trading Tuesday to lock in another positive session after better-than-expected blue chip earnings and day one of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke two-day economic report to Congress.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, added 67.79 points, or 0.8%, to 8915.94, while the S&P 500 rose 3.45 points, or 0.4%, to 954.58. The Nasdaq Composite rose 6.91 points, or 0.4%, to 1916.20.

Caterpillar ( CAT) shares climbed 7.6% higher, to $39.44, after the industrial giant posted a far better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook.

Fellow Dow components DuPont ( DD), Merck ( MRK) and Coca-Cola ( KO) also topped profit estimates.

Tech stocks suffered early, however, after United Technologies ( UTX), down 1.8%, cut its revenue guidance for the year and lowered the high end of its profit forecast range.

Financials were also selling off with the KBW Bank index down 3.1% after small business lender CIT Group ( CIT) said a day after securing $3 billion in emergency financing from its bondholders that it could still have to file for bankruptcy protection if a cash tender offer for its outstanding notes fails.

Meanwhile, Bernanke began a semiannual two-day briefing for Congress on the state of the economy. The Fed chairman said the economy seems to be improving, and that growth should return in the second half of the year, although it will be slight.

Bernanke also said the Fed believes "a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will be appropriate for an extended period" but made assurances that the policy measures taken in response to the financial crisis "can be withdrawn in a smooth and timely manner as needed, thereby avoiding the risk that policy stimulus could lead to a future rise in inflation."

(Click below to hear Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist for Cantor Fitzgerald, break down earnings and hot topics in Bernanke's remarks.)

chart
Click to Listen
Market Q&A

In other news, Yahoo! ( YHOO) is expected to launch its new home page Tuesday, according to published reports. That would be months earlier than originally planned. Shares fell 1.5% to $16.75 ahead of its results.

(Yahoo! said after the close that its second quarter revenue decreased 13% year over year, or 8% excluding the impact of currency rate fluctuations. Net income rose one penny year over year to ten cents a share, or 16 cents a share on an adjusted basis.)
 Market Roundup

Checking in on commodities, crude oil futures gained 74 cents to $64.75 a barrel and gold rose $6.90 to $946.90 an ounce.

Stocks overseas were mostly higher. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 and the DAX in Frankfurt were rising 0.9% and 1.3%, respectively. In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan rose 2.7%, but the Hang Seng in Hong Kong ended flat.

The dollar was recently stronger vs. the yen, but weaker against the pound and euro, and longer-dated Treasuries were rising in price, falling in yield. The 10-year was up 1-2/32 to yield 3.47%, while the 30-year gained 1-31.5/32, yielding 4.39%.