Stocks Edged to Gains on Strong Consumer Confidence

U.S. stocks closed with modest gains as consumer confidence data was stronger than expected and investors eyed further progress on a solution to Europe’s fiscal mess. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 32.62 points, or 0.28%, to 11,555.63. The S&P 500 rose 2.64 points, or 0.22%, to 1,195.19. The Nasdaq Composite fell 11.83 points, or 0.47%, to 2,515.51.

A gauge of consumer confidence jumped in November to the highest level since July, on improved expectations and views on the present economy, the Conference Board reported Tuesday. The index rose more than 15 points, the largest gain since 2003, to 56 in November from an upwardly revised 40.9 in October. A prior estimate for confidence in October had pegged the level at 39.8.

Euro zone ministers struggled to ramp up the firepower of their rescue fund and raised the possibility of asking the IMF for more help on Tuesday after Italy’s borrowing costs hit a euro lifetime high of nearly 8 percent.

Research In Motion is introducing a software tool giving corporate customers the option of linking employees’ personal iPhones to the BlackBerry network without compromising security. The move, announced on Tuesday, acknowledges the deep inroads made by Apple and Google’s Android devices in the global smartphone market, especially among younger users.

Crude-oil futures topped $100 a barrel on Tuesday. Light, sweet crude for January delivery advanced $1.58, or 1.6%, to $99.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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