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Energy stocks lead rally, despite crude oil's price slide

Trader Peter Tuchman, watches the boards on the

Trader Peter Tuchman, watches the boards on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Energy companies led major stock indexes higher Tuesday, even as crude oil resumed its slide. General Motors rose after reporting stronger sales, and Biogen, a biotech company, soared following news that its drug for Alzheimer's disease showed promise.

At midafternoon on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 14.81 points, or 0.72 percent, at 2,068.25. The Dow Jones industrial average had gained 115.23 points, or 0.64 percent, to 17,891.22, and the Nasdaq composite had added 32.31 points, or 0.69 percent, to 4,760.14.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: "I think what you're seeing is a little reality settling in," said Brad McMillan, the chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial. Reports that the holiday shopping season was off to a weak start helped knock the market down on Monday. But those concerns were likely overblown, McMillan said. IBM Digital Analytics said sales for Cyber Monday jumped 8 percent.

ON THE ROAD: General Motors posted solid sales gains in the United States last month, helped by discounts and falling gas prices. GM sales climbed 6 percent to nearly 226,000 in November. The carmaker's stock gained 58 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $33.49 in early trading.

JOIN THE CREW: Royal Caribbean Cruises surged $3.91, or 5 percent, to $76.20. S&P Dow Jones Indices said late Monday that the operator of cruise ships will replace Bemis, a maker of packaging products and toilet seats, in the S&P 500 index following the end of trading on Thursday. When a company joins the S&P 500, it tends to attract more money from investors who want to stick close to the benchmark.

CRUDE: The price of crude oil fell $1.61 to $67.43 a barrel in New York trading. A steep slump in oil prices has rippled throughout financial markets in recent weeks. The drop has put stress on oil-exporting countries such as Russia, which is already under strain from Western sanctions over its backing of rebels in eastern Ukraine. Russia's ruble fell another 4 percent Tuesday, while the country's RTS stock index dropped 1.8 percent.

ANALYST TAKE: "The economic conditions Russia is facing right now are aggressively against its economy," said Jameel Ahmad, chief market analyst for FXTM.

GLOBAL FEARS: There were no major economic reports out Tuesday, but traders will have a batch of economic news to digest over the rest of the week. On Thursday, the European Central Banks meets Thursday to discuss whether the region's flagging economy needs more support. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department releases its employment report for November.

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