Big gain for stocks after Bernanke remarks

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks leapt to multi-year highs and recorded one of their biggest gains of the year Monday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the economy still needs help to produce faster job growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 160.90 points to 13,241.63, its third-best showing this year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 19.40 points to 1,416.51, its highest close since May 2008.

The Nasdaq composite index, which is closing in on a 20 percent rally for the year, climbed 54.65 points to 3,122.57, its best finish since November 2000.

Health care stocks led the market. The Supreme Court heard the first of three days of arguments on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law, which will require Americans to carry insurance or pay a penalty.

Health care stocks gained 1.7 percent as a group. Aetna gained 3.1 percent, WellPoint 2.9 percent and UnitedHealth Group 2.7 percent. The court is expected to decide the case in June.

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