"The market is trying to give people comfort that we're starting to build a base to go up from," said Frank Davis, director of trading at LEK Securities.
The Dow flirted with 14,000 for most of the day but wasn't able to close above that threshold. Bank of America(BAC) was the biggest gainer on the blue-chip index.
But it was tech stocks that drove Tuesday's rally, helped by the highly anticipated announcement of a $24.4 billion leveraged buyout of computer maker Dell(DELL). The deal, if completed, would be one of the largest LBOs ever.
Shares of Dell rival Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) jumped more than 2% after HP said it plans to target Dell's customers during the transition.
Shares of UK cable operator Virgin Media(VMED) rallied more than 17%, making it the biggest gainer on the Nasdaq. The company confirmed it has been approached by media billionaire John Malone's Liberty Global(LBTYA) about a possible deal.
Shares of McGraw Hill(MHP) dropped more than 10%, after the U.S. Justice Department sued S&P, one of its divisions, over its ratings of subprime securities before the financial crisis.
Ratings agency stocks are junk
Investors also had a slew of earnings to pore through.
BP(BP) kicked off the day with results noting the company paid out billions in fines to the U.S. government, yet shares rose more than 1%,
The U.S. dollar gained versus the British pound and the Japanese yen, but lost ground against the euro.
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