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A rally in oil prices helped spur stocks higher on Tuesday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up more than 300 points. It was the second straight session of gains for stocks.
Signs that Greece's government won't press for a write-off of the country's bailout loans also helped, as did a surge in auto sales in January. U.S. oil rose $3.48, or 6.1 percent, to $53.05 a barrel, its highest closing price this year. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oils imported by U.S. refineries, rose $3.16, or 5.8 percent, to $57.91 a barrel. Oil has gained about 19 percent over three trading sessions. The sudden rally follows a months-long decline that knocked oil prices down about 60 percent from last year's peak of $107 a barrel.
The Dow surged in the last 15 minutes of trade for a gain of more than 1.70 percent, or 305.36 to 17,666.40. Taking the lead, Caterpillar rose more than 3 percent. Exxon Mobil and Chevron followed, each rising by nearly 3 percent or more. "With crude between $50 and $55, a lot of people are going to see Caterpillar as cheap," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics. The S&P 500 gained 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq tacked on 1.09 percent.
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-- NBC News Staff, Reuters and CNBC