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Dow average nears 12,000 as tech stocks climb

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Dow Jones industrial average neared 12,000 for the first time since June 2008 Monday as technology and materials companies led broad gains in the stock market.

Technology stocks rose after Intel Corp. increased its dividend and said it would buy back more of its stock. The company gained 1.7 percent.

Materials companies gained 1.2 percent after a report from the National Association for Business Economics showed that economists are more positive about economic growth and the job market than at any time since the start of the Great Recession.

Vulcan Materials Co., Alcoa Inc. and Sealed Air Corp. each gained more than 3 percent. Alcoa, which jumped 3.6 percent, was the top-performing stock among the 30 that make up the Dow Jones industrial average.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow gained 108.15 points, or 0.91 percent, to 11,979.99.

The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose 7.45 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,290.80. Financial companies were the only member of the 10 company groups that make up the index to fall.

The Nasdaq composite index gained 28.01, or 1.04 percent, to 2,717.55.

J.C. Penny Co. jumped 7 percent after the retailer said it would close some stores and its catalog business to reduce costs.

American Express Co., CSX Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. are scheduled to release their results after the market closes.

Bond prices fell, pushing their yields slightly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.42 percent from 3.40 percent late Friday.

A report from the National Association for Business Economics showed that economists are more positive about economic growth and the job market than at any time since the start of the Great Recession.

No other major economic reports were scheduled to be released Monday. Reports on home prices, consumer confidence and new home sales are due out later in the week. A report on gross domestic product, due out Friday, is expected to show that the economy grew at a 3.1 percent rate in the fourth quarter, up from 2.6 percent in the third quarter.

The economy is also likely to be the focus of President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night.