Stocks Ended Up Slightly on Greece, Fed

Stocks ended up slightly on Tuesday, helped by reports signaling the Greek government was close to agreeing on budget measures that would open the path to more international rescue money and testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33.07 points, or 0.26%, to 12,878.20, its highest close since May 2008. The S&P 500 gained 2.72 points, or 0.20%, to 1,347.05. The Nasdaq Composite added 2.09 points, or 0.07%, to 2,904.08.

With pressure mounting, Greek party leaders were reportedly close Tuesday to finalizing an agreement for a second rescue package needed to avert a chaotic default that could propel Greece out of the euro. Several news reports said government officials drafted a final document detailing provisions of a 130 billion euro ($170 billion) rescue package. The document is set to be presented to leaders of the three parties that back Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’s interim unity government at a meeting on Wednesday.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke did not throw the spotlight Tuesday on last week’s surprisingly strong January unemployment report, sticking to his forecast only moderate growth ahead. In testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, Bernanke said the Fed was not forecasting any “sharp improvements” in the unemployment rate.

The euro rose to a 2-month high against the dollar Tuesday on speculation that Greek politicians will agree on a new cost-cutting plan. The euro rose to $1.3248 in late trading Tuesday from $1.3125 late Monday. The euro rose as high as $1.3269 Tuesday, its highest point since Dec. 12, 2011.

Crude futures shook off initial weakness to settle at their best in one week, rising 1.6% on Tuesday. Crude for March delivery rose $1.50, or 1.6%, to settle at $98.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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