Stocks gain on reassurance from a Fed official

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A Fed official’s remarks and two big retailers’ profits helped push stocks higher. James Bullard, head of the Fed’s St. Louis branch, said the Fed should stick with its bond-buying to help bolster the recovery. ‘Those words were a salve for investors’ nerves,’ said Lawrence Creatura, at Federated Investors. Other officials have talked about scaling back the program. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke on Wednesday will give Congress his take on the economy. Profits helped to brighten the day: Shares of Home Depot and AutoZone jumped on their earnings news. Seven of 10 companies in the S&P 500 have trumped the Street’s earnings forecasts, S&P Capital IQ says.

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