Dow brushes up against 2009 highs on strong economic data

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For a few minutes this morning, and again around 3 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average ticked within a few points of positive territory for the year. Pending home sales that grew at the fastest pace in seven years and better-than-expected auto sales from General Motors, Chrysler and Ford (F) helped push stocks higher, and the DJIA closed up 19 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 8,471, a bit below the day's highs and still about 35 points below break-even.

Alcoa (AA) was the average's biggest gainer, rising about 7 percent. Its shares have climbed 14 percent so far this week. Meanwhile, financials lagged, with American Express (AXP) and Citigroup (C) each losing nearly 5 percent. It was the fourth straight day of gains for the Dow.

For more stocks making moves today, be sure to check out BloggingStocks' market wrap-up.
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