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Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Treasury Department

Tuesday's gains in the stock market could be signs of a Santa Claus rally. Or it may have been relief that the federal government stepped in once again to bail out a big lender.

Some people feel like it's just not the holidays if they don't watch Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer or How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Stock market watchers feel the same way about the "Santa Claus rally."

That's the phenomenon where stock prices tend to rise between Christmas Day and New Year's. Until Tuesday, Santa was a no-show.

Let's thank the Treasury Department, in this season of giving, for reaching into its bag of money and finding $5 billion for GMAC L.L.C. and another $1 billion for General Motors Corp.

Stocks posted broad gains with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up 2.4 percent - its biggest rise since Dec. 16. Only 26 stocks in the S&P 500 fell, which I find remarkable on a day when the latest economic statistics were generally worse than expected.

There's likely some "window dressing" going on as money managers add stocks to their portfolios that make them look good to their clients. Still, with stocks so beaten down, I'm not sure new curtains make broken windows look any better.

I won't say I don't believe in Santa Claus rallies, but the good feeling they engender tends to last only as long as the euphoria children experience as they unwrap those presents under the tree.

When in Rohm

A day after slumping 16.1 percent, shares of Rohm & Haas Co. climbed 11.9 percent, or $6.36, to close at $59.70.

That's still well below the $78 per share that Dow Chemical Co. has promised to pay to acquire the Philadelphia specialty chemical maker.

But some were questioning that promise after the collapse of a joint venture between Kuwait and Dow Chemical over the weekend. Investors began wondering if the chemical giant could afford a $15.2 billion acquisition of Rohm & Haas.

I still wonder about that, but several analysts are confident the deal will close, perhaps at a lower price.

Dow Chemical nudged 1.5 percent higher, up 23 cents to close at $15.55.