Energy stocks push indexes higher

Energy stocks led indexes higher Monday, the first day of trading since the growing unrest in Egypt caused the largest one-day drop in the broad stock market in more than three months. ...

Energy stocks led indexes higher Monday, the first day of trading since the growing unrest in Egypt caused the largest one-day drop in the broad stock market in more than three months.

Exxon Mobil Corp. gained 2.1 percent after it reported its most profitable quarter since 2008. Massey Energy Co. jumped 9.8 percent after Alpha Natural Resources Inc. said that it would buy the coal producer in a $7.1 billion deal. Alpha Natural Resources fell 7.2 percent.

The Massey deal suggests "maybe coal isn't dead," said Kim Caughey Forrest, equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group. It also raises hopes for similar deals in the future, she said.

Concerns remained over Egypt's impact on oil prices. The country is not a major producer of oil, but it plays a key role in the industry because it controls the Suez Canal, a major route for oil tankers and cargo ships. Crude oil prices rose 3 percent to $92.19 a barrel.

"The market wants to work its way higher," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of Standard & Poor's. "The big worry is the unknown — the cascading effects that could occur."

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 68 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 11,891.93. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 10, or 0.8 percent, to 1,286.12. The Nasdaq composite index gained 13, or 0.5 percent, to 2,700.08.

Nine of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P index rose. Energy companies gained 2.6 percent, the most of any group.

Bond prices fell slightly, sending their yields higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.38 percent from 3.33 percent late Friday. Bond prices rose Friday because investors sought less risky assets.

Stronger economic data in the U.S. also helped push stocks higher. The Commerce Department reported that consumers increased their spending in December by more than analysts had predicted. Spending for all of 2010 rose by the largest amount in three years.

Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 4.38 billion shares.

Stocks fell broadly Friday due to escalating protests in Egypt and disappointing earnings reports from Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The Dow fell 166.13 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 11,823.70.

The S&P index on Friday fell 23.20, or 1.8 percent, to 1,276.34. That was the broad market index's largest fall since Aug. 11. The Nasdaq composite fell 68.39, or 2.5 percent, to 2,686.89.

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