FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

After a week of hesitation, the blue chips soared more than 100 points and almost brushed up against the 12000 threshold on Monday as the markets benefited from a surge of buying in the materials and tech sectors.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 108.68 points, or 0.92%, to 11980.52, the Standard & Poor's 500 gained 7.49 points, or 0.58%, to 1290.84 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 28.01 points, or 1.04%, to 2717.55. The FOX 50 picked up 5.91 points, or 0.64%, to 926.93.

The impressive rally marked Wall Street's strongest performance since December 2. It also put the Dow on track to bring its weekly win streak to nine -- a feat it hasn't accomplished since May 1995 -- and allowed the Nasdaq Composite to recapture a chunk of the ground it lost during last week's three-day slump. 

There didn't appear to be any major catalysts for the solid rally on Wall Street, but it was supported by strong gains in the tech and materials sectors and by a big stock buyback from chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). 

“As long as oil stays off and the dollar doesn’t get too decimated, I think the market can hold its spot and edge higher,” said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK Securities.

The latest advance left the Dow in striking distance of the psychologically-important 12000 level, a threshold it hasn't closed above since June 2008 -- three months before the implosion of Lehman Brothers that rocked the economy. 

However, it's worth noting Monday's rally took place on the lightest trading volume of the new year, perhaps indicating lingering skepticism by some. 

“People are not necessarily jumping into the market but easing into it and supporting this rally,” said Davis.

The Dow landed at its highest level since June 19, 2008. Most of the benchmark index's 30 stocks advanced, led by aluminum maker Alcoa (NYSE:AA) and IBM (NYSE:IBM). The index's weakest links were financial giants Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and American Express (NYSE:AXP).

The Nasdaq Composite enjoyed even heavier buying, led higher by tech stocks Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA). 

Intel fueled some of the enthusiasm by boosting its stock buyback plan by $10 billion, bringing its total to $14.2 billion. The tech bellwether also increased its quarterly dividend by 15% to 18.12 cents a share. Nvidia surged 11% in the wake of a positive mention in Barron's that highlighted its new mobile chips for tablets and smartphones.

Wall Street was led higher by the basic materials sector, which jumped 1% amid strong gains from stocks such as mining titan Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) and Alcoa. The group benefited from a weaker U.S. dollar and a 0.97% jump in copper prices to $4.3415 a pound.

Even McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) closed modestly higher despite reporting an in-line 2.1% rise in fourth-quarter profits on weaker-than-expected sales of $6.21 billion. Traders will receive another batch of corporate earnings after the close from other major companies like Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN). 

On the commodities front, crude oil fell $1.24 or 1.39%, a barrel to $87.87. Gold declined $3.50 a troy ounce, or 0.26%, to $1,344.50.

Corporate Movers

Sara Lee (NYSE:SLE ) is mulling competing buyout bids, The Wall Street Journal reported. Brazilian beef processor JBS is expected to make a new bid and a group of private-equity firms led by Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital submitted a bid for between $18 and $19 a share, the paper said. However, Sara Lee would only be willing to sell in the low $20s a share and it could still decide to split itself up.

RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) tumbled 11% to 52-week lows after warning it sees fourth-quarter earnings of 50 cents to 54 cents on sales of $1.37 billion. Analysts had called for much stronger EPS of 66 cents. The electronics retailer also said CEO Julian Day plans to step down, suggesting to some analysts a sale isn’t imminent.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) plans to pay outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt $100 million in equity awards, the company said in regulatory filings. Google shocked the tech world last week by saying Schmidt will step down as CEO and be replaced by co-founder Larry Page. Schmidt will stay on as executive chairman. 

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) beat the Street with a non-GAAP profit of 68 cents a share and a 40% surge in revenue to $5.16 billion. The world's No. 2 oilfield services company had been expected to earn 63 cents a share on $4.88 billion in revenue. 

Global Markets

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.81% to 5943.85, Germany's DAX advanced 0.08% to 7067.77 and France's CAC 40 closed up 0.39% to 4033.21.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.69% to 10345.10, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.31% to 23801.80 and China's Shanghai Composite slumped 0.72% to 2695.72.