updated 1/12/2011 7:37:39 AM ET 2011-01-12T12:37:39

New signs of surging corporate profits led to gains in the stock market Tuesday. The major indexes closed higher.

Alcoa Inc. kicked off the fourth quarter earnings season Monday when it reported that it beat Wall Street estimates. The aluminum maker also said it expects demand for its products to jump 12 percent this year, including gains of up to 11 percent in sales to automakers.

Major Market Indices

Two major retailers raised their earnings forecasts. Sears Holdings Corp. said expects to earn between $1.16 and $1.88 per share this year, well above the 88 cents analysts predicted. Tiffany & Co. said better-than-expected holiday sales would push its full-year earnings up at least six cents per share to $2.83.

Story: U.S. wholesale inventories fall unexpectedly

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.36, or 0.30 percent, to 11,671.82. The Nasdaq rose 9.03, or 0.33 percent, to 2,716.83. The S&P 500 rose 4.72, or 0.37 percent, to 1,274.47.

Gains were spread across the market. Telecommunications companies were the only one of the 10 company groups in the S&P index to fall. That group fell 1.6 percent.

Hewlett-Packard Co. rose 2.4 percent to lead the 30 stocks that make up the Dow. Verizon Communications Inc. had the largest fall, dropping 1.9 percent.

Quotes delayed 15+ min.

Supervalu Inc. fell 12 percent to $7.60 after the supermarket chain said it lost money over its last quarter. Homebuilder Lennar Corp. gained 6.8 percent, to 20.19, after its results topped analysts' forecasts.

European stock markets jumped after Japan said it considering buying the bonds struggling countries in the European Union. That would help send bond yields down and ease debt pressures on countries like Ireland and Portugal. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks blue chip companies in countries that use the euro, rose 1.1 percent.

Bond prices fell, sending their yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.36 percent from 3.29 percent late Monday.

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