NEW YORK - Better news on retail sales and manufacturing helped send stocks higher Tuesday, as did comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the recession was probably over.
Surging materials and industrial companies like Alcoa and Caterpillar pulled the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a gain of 57 points, its seventh climb in eight days and another high for the year. Manufacturers are expected to be among the early beneficiaries if the economy strengthens and demand picks up.
Hopes for a rebound grew after the government reported that retail sales jumped in August by the biggest amount in three years. The Fed's index of manufacturing in the New York region rose to its best level since late 2007.
That upbeat economic news helped allay concerns about a separate government report finding that inflation at the wholesale level rose last month at double the rate analysts expected.
Meanwhile, Bernanke cheered investors by saying that the worst recession since the 1930s has "very likely" ended, though he cautioned that problems like high unemployment will remain.
The Dow rose 56.61, or 0.6 percent, to 9,683.41, its highest close since Oct. 6, when it finished at 9,956.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.29, or 0.3 percent, to 1,052.63, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 10.86, or 0.5 percent, to 2,102.64. All three indicators are at their highest levels for 2009.