Stocks close higher on hopes for earnings, Europe

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Trader Kevin Lodewick, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Stocks are shooting higher after the market opened on comforting news from Europe and an optimistic outlook from corporate bellwether Alcoa. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Stocks are closing higher after markets rallied in Europe and corporate bellwether Alcoa predicted strong global demand in 2012. The S&P 500 had its highest close since July.

Aluminum maker Alcoa said late Monday that demand for the metal will increase in 2012. Traders took that as an encouraging signal about the upcoming round of corporate earnings.

European markets soared early Tuesday after Fitch Ratings said it will not downgrade France's credit rating this year.

The S&P 500 closed up 11 points, or 0.9 percent, at 1,292. The Dow finished up 70, or 0.6 percent, at 12,462. The Nasdaq was up 26, or 1 percent, at 2,702.

About 10 stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light at 4.19 billion shares.