October 19, 2009 / 4:26 PM / 9 years ago

US STOCKS-Earnings optimism, Caterpillar boost Wall St

* Caterpillar jumps after broker comments

* Gannett rises after results beat expectations

* Dow up 1.1 pct, S&P 500 up 1 pct, Nasdaq up 1.1 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US] (Updates to midday)

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Monday in a broad-based rally after corporate results fed growing optimism the accelerating earnings season will be strong.

Better-than-expected earnings from companies including Gannett Co Inc (GCI.N) and positive broker commentary for Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) further buoyed investors looking for confirmation the economy is stabilizing.

“It’s all about earnings, and it’s all about momentum,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Investor optimism is really rising rapidly now for the first time since the March lows, and I think a lot of money is bursting off the sidelines as a result.”

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 110.11 points, or 1.10 percent, to 10,106.02. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX gained 11.02 points, or 1.01 percent, to 1,098.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC put on 22.58 points, or 1.05 percent, to 2,179.38.

Caterpillar led the Dow, gaining 4.9 percent to $57.23 after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raised its price target to $65 from $52 and increased its 2010 and 2011 earnings expectations, citing a faster recovery in machinery revenue next year. Caterpillar is set to report results on Tuesday.

All 10 of the S&P 500’s main sectors were higher on Monday. The broad index has surged about 62 percent from the 12-year lows hit in early March.

Earnings season heats up this week, with 13 Dow components and 135 S&P 500 companies set to report.

Gannett Co Inc (GCI.N) jumped 6.9 percent to $13.90 after the largest U.S. newspaper publisher posted lower quarterly profit, but still beat expectations amid cost cutting. For details, see [ID:nN19342465]

Diversified manufacturer Eaton Corp (ETN.N) rose 7.3 percent to $64.85 after it reported profit that beat estimates and said it saw early signs of recovery in its markets. [ID:nN19314996]

Through last Friday, 61 companies in the S&P 500 have reported earnings, with 79 percent of results above analysts’ expectations, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Analysts are especially looking at revenue growth to support expectations the economy is stabilizing after the last two quarters were characterized by cost cutting.

Among the laggards, BB&T Corp (BBT.N) reported profit slumped amid credit losses, sending its shares down 5.2 percent to $26.77. [ID:nN18349933]

Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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