NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks eked out gains on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the stock market's low during the financial crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 12 points, or 0.1%, at 10,564. The S&P 500 closed higher by 2 points, or 0.2%, at 1140, and the Nasdaq improved by 8 points, or 0.4%, to 2341.

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The Dow had added over 50 points earlier in the session, but the broader averages pared gains in the afternoon, as commodity-related stocks pulled back. The S&P is up roughly 69% since March 9, 2009, when it hit its lowest point of the financial crisis.

One of the Dow's biggest laggards was material bellwether Alcoa ( AA), which fell 0.8%. Home Depot ( HD) and Merck ( MRK) also weighed on the other blue chips, losing 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively.

On the other end, United Technologies ( UTX) led advancers in rising 1.4%. Fellow blue-chip conglomerate General Electric ( GE) added nearly 1.4%.

On the Nasdaq, Cisco Systems ( CSCO), Sirius XM Radio ( SIRI) and YRC Worldwide ( YRCW) were the most heavily traded stocks.

Shares of Cisco Systems finished flat at $26.13, after the company unveiled its latest router technology amid hype that it would revolutionize the Internet. The CRS-3 routers promise much faster Internet speeds.

AT&T ( T), which is in trial with the router, benefited from the news and turned in one of the Dow's best performances. Shares rose 1.1%. Fellow Dow component Verizon ( VZ) also gained 0.9% Tuesday.

Airline stocks showed particular strength, climbing higher alongside the broader transportation sector after UAL ( UAUA) said United Airlines traffic picked up in February. UAL shares rose 3.7%. AMR ( AMR), US Airways ( LCC) and Continental Airlines ( CAL) also surged 9.3%, 5.3% and 4.9%, respectively.

The NYSE Arca Airline Index jumped 2.9%. The Dow Jones Transportation Average also added 1.3%.

Elsewhere, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported growth of 2.9% in its weekly chain-store sales snapshot for the week ended March 6, compared with a previous decline of 0.8%. Redbook Research said its Johnson Redbook retail sales index rose 3.1% for the week ended March 6 from the prior month, compared with a previous uptick of 0.7%.

Lawrence Creatura, vice president and portfolio manager at Federated Clover Investment Advisors, said the weekly retail data is consistent with strength seen in last week's same-store sales figures.

"It appears that the consumer may be coming out of the fetal position after being faced with significant economic headwinds," Creatura said, adding that he believes it's reasonable to expect results in line with these recent data points when the Census Bureau releases its February retail sales report on Friday.

"The storm has passed. The survivors are still standing, dusting themselves off, and going to the mall," he said.

The Dow showed volume of nearly 220 million Tuesday, compared with an average volume of 200 million. Listed volume on the New York Stock Exchange was nearly 5.2 billion, with Citigroup ( C), Bank of America ( BAC), Fannie Mae ( FNM) and Sprint Nextel ( S) among the most heavily traded.

Citigroup shares jumped 7.3% after the firm received bullish comments and a report cited strong demand for its $2 billion in trust preferred securities.

Also in the financial realm, The Wall Street Journal reported that Barclays ( BCS) may acquire a U.S. retail operation.

The European Commission is working on a proposal for a European monetary fund aimed at assisting financially struggling countries within the eurozone and requiring the support of all member states.

Meanwhile, Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou met with President Obama in Washington.

Northrop Grumman ( NOC) dropped out of the running to win a $40 billion contract to build the Air Force's next generation of aerial-refueling plans. The company complained that the contract proposal clearly favored Boeing ( BA), which is now the only company vying for the contract.

SunPower ( SPWRA) said it is building two 1-megawatt solar power plants in the Puglia region of Italy, with completion expected in August.

The dollar traded higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.2%.

In commodities markets, crude oil for April delivery settled 38 cents lower at $81.49 a barrel.

The American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude oil supplies grew well past expectations last week, rising 6.5 million barrels, according to Bloomberg. Analysts polled by Platts had expected a mere 2.1 million barrel increase in inventories. The news sets the stage for the government's own inventory statistics, due from the Energy Information Administration at 10:30 a.m. EST.

Elsewhere, Dow Component Chevron ( CVX) announced plans to layoff 2,000 workers and sell parts of its refining operations. Shares finished 0.2% lower at $74.49.

The April gold contract shed $1.70 to settle at $1,122.30 an ounce.

The Treasury Department auctioned off $40 billion in three-year notes in the afternoon. The sale resulted in a yield at 1.437% and brought in an above average bid-to-cover ratio of 3.13. Indirect bidders, a group that observers pinpoint because it includes overseas central bankers, bought up 51.8%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury strengthened 6/32, weakening the yield to 3.699%.

Overseas, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.05%, and Japan's Nikkei shed 0.2%. The FTSE in London slipped 0.08%, and the DAX in Frankfurt finished the day unchanged.

-- Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York.

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