The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 89 points; that's on top of yesterday's 181 point rally. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) rose 53 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 13 points.
Microsoft (MSFT) led both blue chips and tech stocks. It jumped 4 percent to its highest level in more than 13 years. The company is reportedly ready to release a version of its popular Office software package for the Apple iPad. Analysts say that could add more than $1 billion in new revenue.
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) rose 3½ percent as the stock was upgraded by Barclay's, despite the fact that it's been on a tear lately. Over the past six months, HP shares have jumped more than 40 percent. Also in the tech sector, Micron Technology (MU) gained 2 percent and Google (GOOG) added more than 1 percent.
Healthcare, drug and biotechs also had a good day. Amgen, (AMGN) United Healthcare (UNH), Pfizer (PFE), HCA (HCA), and Gilead (GILD) all posted solid gains.
Elsewhere, Future Fuel (FF) jumped 17 percent after the biofuels company posted a four-fold increase in earnings.
Penn Virginia (PVR) gained 15 percent. Investor George Soros raised his stake in the oil and gas company.
Fossil Group (FOSL) rose 4 percent. It's working with Google (GOOG) on Android-based wearables.
Some high-end fashion companies – Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade – gained on positive comments from Barclay's, but it put a 'sell' on Michael Kors, which fell 2 percent.
Also losing ground today:
- GameStop (GAME) fell 3½ percent on news that it's getting a new competitor. Retail giant Walmart (WMT) plans to begin buying and selling used video games.
- The photo website Shutterfly (SFLY) fell 5 percent as Cowen cut its rating to "underperform."
- And WiFi provider Towerstream (TWER) fell 7 percent after posting weaker than expected earnings.
What to Watch Wednesday:
- The Commerce Department releases the U.S. current account trade measure for the fourth quarter at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- Federal Reserve policymakers meet to set interest rates; statement and projections due at 2:00 p.m.
- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a press conference at 2:30 p.m.