Stocks Ended at Session Highs on Fed Hopes

.S. stocks rallied Tuesday on speculation Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would signal new help for the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 322.11 points, or 2.97%, to 11,176.76. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 38.53 points, or 3.43%, to 1,162.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 100.68 points, or 4.29%, to 2,446.06.

A strong earthquake struck the East Coast and was felt as far away as Canada on Tuesday, shaking buildings in many cities, delaying flights and trains and sending thousands of frightened workers into the streets.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) shares fell as much as 6.4 percent to their lowest level since March 2009 as investors worried that the biggest U.S. bank might face big writeoffs. The cost of insuring the bank’s debt against default spiked to record levels.

Gold futures fell Tuesday, snapping a rally that took prices to a record just pennies shy of $1,900 an ounce as profit -taking ensued and as global equity markets posted gains. Gold for December delivery fell $30.60, or 1.6%, to end at $1,861.30 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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