Stock Market Starts 2011 With a Bang

January 4, 2011 Updated: January 6, 2011

NEW YORK—Wall Street started 2011 with large gains on Monday, Jan. 3, extending a rally that started late last month.

The rally, helped by encouraging economic reports, pushed the Nasdaq Composite Index to a new 10-year high and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index to 28-month highs.

The blue chip Dow gained 93.2 points, or 0.8 percent on Monday afternoon, while the broader S&P increased 14.2 points, or 1.1 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.5 percent, or 39 points.

Positive economic reports on Monday include encouraging manufacturing sector data, showing production increased again last month for the 17th consecutive month. The Institute for Supply Management, in its monthly report, said national factory activity increased to 57 points from 56.6 points in November 2010.

"We saw significant recovery for much of the U.S. manufacturing sector in 2010," ISM Chairman Norbert Ore said in a statement.

"The recovery centered on strength in autos, metals, food, machinery, computers, and electronics while those industries tied primarily to housing continue to struggle."

Construction spending nationally also increased last month, according to the Department of Commerce. The 0.4 percent annualized gain is the third straight month of gains.

Biggest Gains

Of the Dow components, aluminum maker Aloca gained 2.6 percent on Monday after Deutsche Bank AG upgraded its stock from “hold” to “buy,” on an expanding economy and more demand for aluminum due to construction and factory activity.

Bank of America led all Dow stocks with a gain of more than 6 percent on news that the bank settled with mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy back around $3 billion in bad home loans it sold to the companies. Investors cheered the news as uncertainty over the lawsuit previously dampened Bank of America’s prospects.

The news drove the entire financial sector higher, as S&P reported that bank shares as a whole rose 2 percent.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers’ (B&N) shares jumped more than 5 percent on Monday, as the company reported stronger-than-expected holiday sales. The company said that its Nook e-book reader helped the company achieve its biggest holiday sales in years.

Same-store sales for B&N increased 9.7 percent year-over-year, and said that the Nook has become its best selling item ever. The figures only counted sales in stores, and did not include sales of Nook readers over the Internet.