Stocks Gain on Bargain-Hunting, Oil Prices

Stocks rose on Monday in a broad rally powered by soaring oil prices and hope that concerns about accounting malpractice have been overdone.

Stocks gathered momentum throughout the session. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average racked up a 140.54-point gain, up 1.44 percent at 9,884.78. The technology-packed Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 27.78 points, or 1.53 percent, at 1,846.66. The broad Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 15.72 points, or 1.43 percent, to 1,111.94.

"The market has finally begun to look beyond the Enron cloud and respond to what we believe are very positive fundamentals," said Milton Ezrati, Lord Abbett & Co. senior economic strategist.

Stocks snapped a five-session losing streak on Friday -- putting an end to the longest string of losses in the market since last September in the wake of the attacks on the United States. Investors are still on edge after the blockbuster bankruptcy of energy trader Enron Corp., but panic over the prospect of another accounting scandal has subsided.

Cyclical stocks like chemical giant DuPont Co., forest products company International Paper Co. and aluminum heavyweight Alcoa Inc. helped lift the blue-chip Dow more than 1 percent as investors positioned for an expected economic recovery this year.

Winners trounced losers by a ratio of 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange and 4 to 3 on Nasdaq. More than 1.1 billion shares changed hands on the Big Board and more than 1.5 billion on Nasdaq.

Oil stocks added more fuel to the market after oil prices rocketed to a one-month high. Fears surfaced that a U.S. government decision to buy more than 18 million barrels of crude for its stockpiles would create a supply shortage in March.

NYMEX March crude settled $1.15 higher at $21.41 a barrel after languishing in negative territory well past midday. The contract shot up to an intraday high of $21.60, the highest since Jan. 7.

Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded energy company, rose 21 cents to $38.50. Offshore oil and gas driller Noble Drilling Corp. tacked on $1.09 gain to $31.78. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil service index rallied 3.81 percent.

DuPont climbed $1.84 to $44.56, boosting the blue-chip Dow. The largest U.S. chemical company said it could spin off its $6.5 billion textiles and interiors businesses as part of a broad restructuring.

Forest products company International Paper Co. rose $1.82 to $43.81, and aluminum heavyweight Alcoa Inc. rose $1.31 to $35.73. Diversified manufacturer Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., up $2.80 at $114.01, and construction equipment maker Caterpillar Inc., up $1.28 at $49.78, also boosted the Dow.

A number of companies battled investors' suspicions about the honesty of Corporate America's accounting practices. Qualcomm rose $3.82 to $41.28 after defending its books on Friday following a research firm's report that raised concerns about the wireless technology firm's accounting.

Tyco rose $1.92 to $31.80 and was the most active share on the New York Stock Exchange. The conglomerate bounced back from a beating taken as investors questioned its accounting.

"People are getting more comfortable with the whole accounting issue ... Companies are coming out pretty quickly when they are attacked," said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the U.S. Equity Group at Deutsche Bank Private Banking.

"It's less of an issue," Fitzpatrick said, but he cautioned: "I wouldn't say it's going to go away any time soon."

Web gear giant Cisco Systems Inc. and optical networking company Ciena Corp. rallied after signing contracts worth millions of dollars to supply equipment for long-distance telephone carrier AT&T Corp.'s optical network. Ciena rose $1.01 to $10.47. Cisco added 93 cents to $17.69, ranking as the most active on Nasdaq.

Telephone and data services company Qwest Communications International Inc. fell 24 cents to $9.36. Qwest said it received a subpoena for documents pertaining to bankrupt telecommunications company Global Crossing Ltd. from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

WorldCom fell 38 cents to $7.80. Standard & Poor's cut WorldCom's rating outlook to "negative" from "stable", saying the No. 2 U.S. long-distance phone company may have difficulty reducing debt as its revenues and earnings fall.

Semiconductor stocks buoyed the Nasdaq. Credit Suisse First Boston raised its rating on Micrel Inc., which rose $1.95 to $21.74, and National Semiconductor Corp., which gained 87 cents to $27.15, on expectations the sector has reached bottom. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange's semiconductor index rose 3.80 percent.

Gold-related shares, among the worst performers in the S&P 500, took a hit after Prudential Securities slashed its rating on Newmont Mining Corp. to "sell" from "hold" and cut its price target on the stock to $10 from $21. Newmont slumped $1.50 to $23.50.

The Russell 2000 index, which measures the performance of smaller company stocks, rose 4.65, or 1.0 percent, to 471.32.

Overseas, stocks traded higher Monday in Europe. France's CAC-40 closed up 1.3 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 advanced 0.7 percent, and Germany's DAX index climbed 2.2 percent.

Japanese financial markets were closed Monday for a national holiday. Normal trading will resume Tuesday.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.