Dow average nears 12,000 as tech stocks climb

NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average closed within 20 points of 12,000 Monday, its highest point since June 2008.

Technology stocks rose after Intel Corp. increased its dividend and said it would buy back more of its stock. The company gained 2 percent.

Materials companies rose 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 in December 2007.

Vulcan Materials Co., Alcoa Inc. and Sealed Air Corp. each gained more than 3 percent. Alcoa, which jumped 4.1 percent, was the top-performing stock among the 30 that make up the Dow Jones industrial average.

The Dow gained 108.68 points, or 0.9 percent, to 11,980.52. The last time the average closed above 12,000 was June 19, 2008.

The broader Standard and Poor’s 500 index rose 7.49, or 0.6 percent, to 1,290.84. The Nasdaq composite gained 28.01, or 1 percent, to 2,717.55.

Gains were spread across the market. Financial and health care companies were the only two of the 10 company groups that make up the S&P index to fall.

McDonald’s Corp. gained 0.5 percent to $75.38 after it said it meet analyst expectations and warned that rising food costs could affect its margins this year.

J.C. Penny Co. jumped 7 percent to $32.52 after the retailer said it would close some stores and its catalog business to reduce costs.

Three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 4 billion shares.

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