You might have noticed a pattern: Stocks rally into the close every day. It is relentless, observes Jon Markman, editor of Strategic Advantage.

Fear of darkness only a month ago has been replaced by blind optimism for the future. The benchmark S&P 500 (SPX) opened Tuesday above the February highs at 4,590, and then went on to close at 4,631, a gain of 1.2%.

It was the ninth advance during the past 11 sessions. The benchmark is up 10.9% since March 14, a remarkable rally in the best of times. However, the current move higher has come against the backdrop of a war in Ukraine, gas prices that have reached $6 per gallon in some parts of the country, and a continuous drumbeat of negativity from Wall Street economists.

It would be normal for stocks to stage a modest pullback to digest recent gains. There is critical support for the S&P 500 at 4,480 and that would be a good place for bulls to reload.

The next overhead resistance level is way up at 4,715, the reaction high from last November and mid-December.

The Upshot

The Dow (DJI) rose by 0.97% to 35,294.19 and the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) jumped 1.84% to 14,619.64.

Breadth favored advancers 7-2, and there were 259 new highs vs. 154 new lows. Big caps on the new high list included Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), AbbVie (ABBV), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Union Pacific (UNP). This list has been incredibly stable.

Technology and consumer discretionary were among the biggest gainers, while the energy sector led the decliners. The US 10-year yield fell by 7.5 basis points to 2.40%.

Russia will "drastically" reduce military activity around two Ukrainian cities, Kyiv and Chernihiv, "to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations," the Washington Post quoted a Russian official as saying. Meanwhile, Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky said the de-escalation proposal "is not a ceasefire," CNN reported.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped by $3.09 to $102.89 a barrel, falling below the $100 mark earlier. Oil was at almost $115 last week.

The recent slump in crude prices stemmed from the prospect of weaker demand as Shanghai is under a lockdown, raising concerns over China's consumption of 15.5 million barrels per day, Australia's ANZ Bank said in a note. Shanghai accounts for 4% of China's total oil.

Gold futures (GC=F) fell by $27.8 to $1,916 per ounce after declining to $1,893.20 earlier. If Russia-Ukraine talks prove inconclusive yet again, gold is likely to start climbing again, Commerzbank said in a note.

In economic news, the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence rose to 107.2 in March from 105.7 in February, ahead of the 107 expected in a survey compiled by Bloomberg.

The number of job openings in the US hit 11.266 million in February, versus an upwardly revised 11.283 million in January.

In company news, Nielsen (NLSN) agreed to be acquired by a private-equity group in a $16 billion buyout deal. Nielsen's shares soared by 21%, making it the top performer on the S&P 500. Boeing (BA) said it named Ted Colbert as chief executive and president of its defense, space, and security business. Stephanie Pope, chief financial officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, has been appointed CEO and president of Boeing Global Services. Shares of Boeing jumped 3%.

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