NEW YORK – Stocks gained steam on Tuesday, with the Dow climbing 1 percent and the S&P 500 on track for a second straight advance, as voters chose the next president.
Trading volume was expected to remain light as investors awaited results of a close race that will set the country's course for the next four years on spending, taxes, healthcare and other policies.
Polls showed President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney neck-and-neck, with a handful of battleground states expected to decide the winner. The outcome will affect industry sectors from energy to financials.
"I think people are kind of feeling like, 'Hey, we're going to have an answer to the election. The uncertainty is still there, but we know that the end is very near," said Bryant Evans, investment adviser and portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management, in Champaign, Illinois.
Investors will also closely watch races in the Senate and House of Representatives that could affect the "fiscal cliff," or $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that are set to be automatically triggered at the end of the year.
The U.S. fiscal standoff threatens to bring on another recession unless a deal is reached between Congress and the White House.
The energy sector was leading gains, with the S&P 500 energy index up 0.9 percent, while United Technologies , up 2.1 percent at $79.57, gave the biggest lift to the Dow.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 141.84 points, or 1.08 percent, at 13,254.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 11.18 points, or 0.79 percent, at 1,428.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.39 points, or 0.45 percent, at 3,013.05.
The gains came despite more disappointing results from U.S. companies, with S&P 500 earnings estimated down 0.6 percent for the third quarter from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Fossil Inc slumped 12.7 percent to $82.16 after the fashion accessories maker posted lower-than-expected quarterly revenue due to a fall in sales in Europe and a stronger dollar.
Express Scripts Holding Co plunged 13.9 percent to $54.15 and was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq after the pharmacy benefits manager said analysts' forecasts for its 2013 results were too aggressive, casting doubt on how well it is integrating its $29 billion purchase of Medco Health Solutions Inc.
Zillow Inc tumbled 19.2 percent to $27.76 after the real estate website forecast fourth-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates. The company lost one of its larger advertisers, Foreclosure.com.
On the up side were shares of Emerson Electric Co , which climbed 1.7 percent to $51.36 after the industrial conglomerate posted adjusted earnings that topped Wall Street expectations and said it will pursue a sale of its $1.4 billion embedded computing and power business.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)