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Wall Street celebrates retail sales; S&P 500 posts best day of the year

U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday, as Wall Street chalked up its strongest performance in 2014 after upbeat retail-sales data for December helped offset concerns that came with Friday's monthly jobs report.

"The biggest factor (driving the market) was the reassurance that people took from the retail numbers and the sales growth there. We're now shifting back to the basic idea that the jobs number was something of an aberration, so we can go back to the positive tilt we had," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank.

The Commerce Department report had last month after a 0.4 percent advance the prior month.

The gauge of consumer spending was viewed as particularly important in light of Friday's dismal jobs report for December, which had the government reporting the addition of 74,000 to , far below estimates of about 200,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported the unemployment rate fell to from 7 percent to 6.7 percent, with decline chalked up to the high number of those not actively looking for work.

But Randy Frederick, director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, says the participation rate, while low, was the same as in October, when the unemployment rate stood at 7.2 percent. "The market seemed to take it as a very negative report, but the unemployment rate dropping should have been positive. It's not just a number and a rate, there's a lot more to it than that," he said.

JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo gained after reporting fourth-quarter results. Time Warner Cable rose after from Charter Communications. Google advanced after saying it would purchase digital-thermostat manufacturer Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. surged after deliveries of its Model S sedan in the fourth quarter topped what the electric-car maker had forecast. fell sharply after the video-game retailer projected .

Major U.S. Indexes

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 115.92 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,373.86, with leading blue-chip gains that included 26 of its 30 components. JPMorgan Chase upgraded the chip maker to overweight from neutral, saying the PC market would stabilize this year. led Dow declines after battery problems resurfaced on one of its 787s parked in Tokyo.

The climbed 19.68 points, or 1.1 percent, with technology and energy the best performing of its 10 major sectors.

The Nasdaq gained 69.71 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,183.01.

For every stock falling, more than two gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 650 million shares traded. Composite volume topped 3.3 billion.

The fluctuated against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, while the yield on the 10-year climbed 5 basis points to 2.876 percent.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, for February delivery rose 88 cents to $92.71 a barrel and for February delivery lost $5.70 to settle at $1,245.40 an ounce


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