4:15 pm : The major averages ended with solid gains as the S&P 500 rose 0.8%.
Stocks reached their highs one hour into the session and drifted near those levels into the afternoon. However, equities were rattled by a Financial Times story suggesting Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is likely to discuss tapering at his Wednesday press conference.
Although the story reiterated the need for improved economic conditions, and did not contain any new revelations, the mere mention of tapering knocked equities off their highs. Only some of the losses held into the close as the S&P was able to erase some of the weakness.
When the dust settled, cyclical sectors ended in the lead with energy and technology outpacing the remaining growth-sensitive groups.
The energy sector rose 1.3% even as crude oil ended the session unchanged at $97.85 per barrel.
Elsewhere, the tech space ended higher by 1.1% amid broad strength. Top components Google (GOOG 886.25, +11.21) and Microsoft (MSFT 35.00, +0.60) settled with respective gains of 1.3% and 1.7%. High-beta chipmakers also outperformed as the PHLX Semiconductor Index rose 1.5%.
Also of note, Netflix (NFLX 229.23, +15.24) jumped 7.1% after the company announced a multi-year partnership with DreamWorks Animation (DWA 23.74, +0.93).
Another influential group, financials, was briefly victimized by the Financial Times headline before regaining most of its losses into the close. The sector ended higher by 1.0%.
Meanwhile, the industrial sector underperformed amid weakness in transportation-related names. The Dow Jones Transportation Average lost 0.2% after being up as much as 0.8%.