New York Stock Exchange
Richard Drew, AP
By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks rallied to fresh highs on Tuesday as investors picked up large-cap companies' shares on the expectation that central bank stimulus will help propel the rally further.

Gains were broad, but growth sectors outperformed their peers with bank stocks leading the way. Bank of America (BAC), up 2.8 percent at $13.34, was the Dow's biggest percentage gainer, while Citigroup (C) rose 2.4 percent to $50.09.

Wall Street has rallied without a significant correction since the start of the year, pushing major indexes to all-time records and pushing the S&P 500 up almost 16 percent for 2013 so far. The ascent has been driven in large part by the Federal Reserve's easy monetary policy, designed to stimulate the economy, though investors' focus has turned to when the Fed may start to rein in its bond-purchase program.

"The developed economies of the world are all easing aggressively, the money is looking for a home, and it's ending up in the stock markets," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

For now, investors are betting that the central bank will be careful not to remove its support too soon in order to not disrupt the economic recovery it is trying to foster, Hellwig said. So far, declines in the market have been met with buying and investors are trying to gauge how long that can last.

"People are indeed trying to participate in the rally, but at the same time, they're trying to be cautious," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial, based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

The S&P 500 financial sector index rose 1.7 percent, while the S&P transports group index gained 1.4 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123.57 points, or 0.82 percent, to a record 15,215.25 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 16.57 points, or 1.01 percent, to end at a record 1,650.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 23.82 points, or 0.69 percent, to 3,462.61, its highest close since November 2000.

During the session, the Dow hit an all-time intraday high of 15,219.55, while the S&P 500 climbed to an all-time intraday high of 1,651.10. The Nasdaq touched a fresh 52-week high of 3,468.67.

The market had traded sideways for the past three sessions, showing a gain of just 0.07 percent as the winding down of the quarterly earnings season and a light economic calendar have left investors without a strong catalyst for further gains.

The Dow's gains were limited by weakness in Intel (INTC), down 1 percent at $23.84, and UnitedHealth Group (UNH), off 1.1 percent at $61.73.

U.S.-listed shares of Sony (SNE) jumped 9.9 percent to $20.76 after billionaire hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb called on the company to spin off its lucrative entertainment arm.

Nokia (NOK) unveiled a new version of its Lumia smartphone line, but U.S.-listed shares fell 5.2 percent to $3.64. Research company Gartner said Nokia lost 5 percentage points of market share in the first quarter, falling to 14.8 percent.

Solar power companies' shares fell after Trina Solar (TSL) estimated lower panel shipments than a previous outlook and said its results would be hurt by a foreign currency exchange loss. The stock fell 8.8 percent to $5.41, while Yingli Green Energy (YGE) slid 6.3 percent to $2.36.

Most corporate earnings have been better than expected this quarter. With 90 percent of the S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 67.2 percent have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, which is even with the average over the past four quarters. However, only 46.9 percent have beaten revenue expectations, below the 52 percent average over the past four quarters.

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Obama is currently under 4 scandals, I'll bet 100 dollars to a coke this will be number 5... WALL STREET SCAM

May 15 2013 at 2:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, you're not invited.

May 14 2013 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

are the banks and Wall St bragging about this ?
When are the banks going to share the monies meant to support small businesses,
and when are they going to stop taking those subsidies in the face of hugh profits
for a long time now, and when are they going to return all the monies they scammed
over mortgages and when are they going to stop playing russian roulette with our money
betting on derivitives ( openly, secretively, etc). Their profits do not tranlate to us at all.

May 14 2013 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And when apple was 700 everyone said it was going to 1000. It's at 400 and change And when gold was 1800 everyone was saying its going to 5000. Its at 1400 and change. Everyone includes the experts. Lol. Now they are going to the moon in the stock market thus I'm shorting

May 14 2013 at 10:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Short seller here

May 14 2013 at 10:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Only a fool would by into this fraud of a market. Overvalued and ready to crash!

May 14 2013 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is what everyone wanted so it is here and enjoy it while you can ....adios

May 14 2013 at 9:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am getting out of the market as much as I can this week!!!

May 14 2013 at 9:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SPQR's comment

Exactly. I've been shorting. I'm net short the Dow and S&P Let it rally more. I'll view it as more opportunity

May 14 2013 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tell it to the scooter sales guy he knows the jig is up.

May 14 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

When the crap hits the fan there won't be enough deoderizer or adult diapers to save anybody.

May 14 2013 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply