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for an extended period" but made assurances that the policy measures taken in response to the financial crisis "can be withdrawn in a smooth and timely manner as needed, thereby avoiding the risk that policy stimulus could lead to a future rise in inflation."

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