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Stocks rally to highest levels since May

September 20, 2010 | 12:09 pm

This will be a big day for the stock market if the session’s gains hold: Major indexes have finally risen above their early-August peaks and now are trading at their highest levels since May.

That could boost hopes that the market is decisively breaking out of the back-and-forth trading pattern that has been the story since mid-May.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 145 points, or 1.4%, to 10,752 just after noon PDT, with an hour to go in the session. The Dow’s summer high was its close of 10,698 on Aug. 9.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, up 15.86 points, or 1.4%, to 1,141.45 at about noon PDT, also reached its summer peak on Aug. 9, at 1,127.79.

Monday’s advance is broad-based, with 2,402 stocks rising on the New York Stock Exchange and 632 declining.

As for the catalyst for the rally: There’s no major economic news, although homebuilder Lennar’s earnings were better than expected.

The Federal Reserve meets on Tuesday but isn’t expected to announce any big policy change.

After three straight weeks of gains for stocks, some traders and investors may just have decided they can’t afford to stay on the sidelines any longer. The Dow is up 7.4% this month.

“You can only fight the tape for so long,” says Ryan Larson, head trader at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago. “As the market continues to run some people are thinking they’ve got to get in.”

-- Tom Petruno