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The close: Two days, and counting Add to ...

After two days of consecutive gains, the stock market is at last showing signs of strength after falling steadily earlier this month and flirting with official correction status.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 8,359.49, up 27.81 points or 0.3 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 905.84, up 4.79 points or 0.5 per cent.

Those are slight gains, to be sure, next to the 2.5-per-cent rally by the S&P 500 on Monday - but they marked the streakiest gains since the end of June, at which point investors began to grow concerned about second quarter earnings.

On that note, the news has been good so far. Alcoa Inc. beat expectations last week with a smaller-than-expected loss. And on Tuesday, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Johnson & Johnson also topped analysts' estimates with strong profits.

After markets closed, Intel Corp. joined the parade, with adjusted earnings of 20 cents (U.S.) a share, well above the 8 cents a share expected by analysts. The chipmaker, which reported a net loss of $398-million or 7 cents a share, also forecast revenues in the third quarter that were higher than expected.

Still, investors have been reacting cautiously to the earnings news so far: Goldman Sachs shares rose 0.2 per cent, Johnson & Johnson shares rose 0.9 per cent and Intel shares rose 2.1 per cent before its results were released.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 9,986.15, up 94.22 points or 1 per cent.

Financials led the way, with strong gains by Canada's Big Banks. Royal Bank of Canada rose 2.9 per cent and Bank of Montreal rose 2.6 per cent.

However, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. sank on ongoing concerns about the price of potash in international markets.

Energy stocks turned in a lacklustre performance after the price of crude oil drifted sideways at about $59.50 a barrel. Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.6 per cent and EnCana Corp. was relatively unchanged.

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