Stocks edge higher for a second day in a row

NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric Co. and other industrial companies pushed stocks higher after another choppy session Tuesday, the second day of gains in a row.

It was the first back-to-back gain since the last week of August and only the third time the market has closed higher this month. On the five days the market closed lower in September, the Dow Jones industrial average lost between 100 and 303 points.

The Dow rose 44.73 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 11,105.85. The Dow moved between small gains and losses for much of the day, then turned higher in the last half-hour.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10.60, or 0.9 percent, to 1,172.87.

Trading was quiet compared with the many wild swings the market has had since early August. The Dow traded in a range of just 153 points, the narrowest since July 26. The average daily range during August was twice as big, 337 points. The last time the Dow traded in a larger range was November 2008.

Investors have been struggling with uncertainty over the European debt crisis and questions over which way the U.S. economy is going, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. That fear of the unknown has made markets especially volatile. Traders seem to be hanging on every piece of news or rumor out of Europe.

“It’s a difficult environment for a long-term investor,” Detrick said. “Any news can take you significantly higher or lower. There’s just so much volatility.”

European markets rose broadly Tuesday. Major French banks soared after BNP Paribas denied that it had trouble borrowing dollars from other banks and investors in short-term credit markets.

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