NEW YORK - Stocks advanced in uneven trading yesterday after a drop in oil prices and a tiny gain in new-home sales spurred investors to put money back into the market.

Stocks picked up momentum late in the session as oil drifted below $129 a barrel. This helped ease investor concerns about the effect of soaring energy and food prices on consumers, who account for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Investors were also somewhat reassured after the Commerce Department said sales of new homes rose 3.3 percent in April.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68.72, or 0.55 percent, to 12,548.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9.42, or 0.68 percent, to 1,385.35, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 36.57, or 1.50 percent, to 2,481.24.

The advance came after the Dow lost 3.91 percent last week - its worst showing since February - while the other indexes showed similar declines. Investors sold stocks amid concerns about rising energy prices and after a sizable run-up since the market's lows in mid-March.

A barrel of light sweet crude fell $3.34 to settle at $128.85 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold fell, while the dollar gained.

Todd Salamone, director of trading at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, said investors were also looking toward more economic data due during the week. "There's a ton of reports that will give us a better idea about the consumer, and that's what we're watching," he said.

Economic reports scheduled include today's government data on durable goods that will provide more insight into consumer spending on big-ticket items. On Friday, the University of Michigan will release its report on consumer sentiment, the government will issue personal-spending data, and the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index will be released.

In corporate news, Vodafone Group P.L.C. posted a full-year profit and said its chief executive officer planned to resign. The world's biggest mobile-phone company by sales said Arun Sarin would be replaced by his deputy, Vittorio Colao. Shares of Vodafone fell 35 cents to close at $32.20.

The Blackstone Group L.P. and Apollo Management L.P. are holding discussions about buying specialty-chemicals-maker Chemtura Corp., according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Blackstone shares were up 37 cents at $18.91, while Chemtura shares rose 69 cents, or 8.85 percent, to $8.49.

Flotek Industries Inc. fell $1.91, or nearly 10 percent, to $17.26 after the provider of oil field services reduced its full-year profit forecast because of increased costs and delays in the delivery of parts.

The Russell 200 index of smaller companies rose 10.29, or 1.42 percent, to 734.39.