NEW YORK - Energy and health-care companies led major stock indexes higher on 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.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 13.11 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,066.55.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 102.75 points, or 0.58 percent, to 17,879.55, while the Nasdaq composite rose 28.46 points, or 0.60 percent, to 4,755.81. Oil and gas companies led nine of the 10 industries in the S&P 500 higher.
In the one economic report out Tuesday, the Commerce Department said newly built houses and schools lifted U.S. construction spending in October to the highest level since May. Overall, construction spending climbed 1.1 percent, higher than economists' forecasts.
General Motors posted solid sales gains in the U.S. last month, helped by discounts and falling gas prices. GM's sales climbed 6 percent to nearly 226,000 in November. The carmaker's stock gained 32 cents, or 1 percent, to $33.26.
Among companies making big moves, Avanir Pharmaceuticals soared on news that Otsuka Pharmaceuticals of Japan plans to buy the company for $3.5 billion. In the deal, Otsuka would pay Avanir investors $17 per share in cash. Avanir's stock jumped $1.92, or 13 percent, to $16.92.
Crude oil prices resumed their long slide, falling $2.12 to settle at $66.88 a barrel in New York trading. The slump has rippled throughout financial markets in recent weeks, putting stress on oil-exporting countries such as Russia. On Tuesday, Russia's government forecast that the country's economy will shrink next year. That helped send Russia's currency down 5 percent against the dollar and drive its RTS stock index down 3 percent.
"The economic conditions Russia is facing right now are aggressively against its economy," said Jameel Ahmad, Chief Market Analyst for FXTM.
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany's DAX slipped 0.3 percent, while France's CAC 40 inched up 0.3 percent. In the U.K., the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares gained 1.3 percent.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.4 percent. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index climbed 3 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2 percent.
In other trading on Tuesday, government bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 2.29 percent.
Prices for precious metals sank. Gold dropped $18.70 to settle at $1,199.40 an ounce, while silver slid 24 cents to $16.46 an ounce. Copper dipped a penny to $2.89 a pound.
In other energy trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, wholesale gasoline fell 7 cents to close at $1.812 a gallon; heating oil fell 6 cents to close at $2.154 a gallon, and natural gas fell 13 cents to close at $3.874 per 1,000 cubic feet.