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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

US Stocks end 'tough month' in the black (ext)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Despite a slight step back last week, stocks closed out February on an upbeat note, posting their third straight month of gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 96 points, or 0.8%, on Monday; the S&P 500 (SPX) rose 3 points, or 0.2%; the Nasdaq (COMP) was flat for the day.

But that doesn't mean the ride wasn't a bumpy one. While stocks started February off strong thanks to solid earnings reports, uprisings in the Middle East sent oil prices skyrocketing and stocks falling last week.

"It's really been kind of a tough month," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank in Chicago. "I'm hopeful that as long as consumers believe higher energy prices are temporary, I think we can work our way through this."

Investors are looking ahead to the government's monthly payroll report on Friday, which will reveal how many jobs were created in February.

The greenback fell against the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery slipped 91 cents to settle at $96.97 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery rose 60 cents to settle at $1,409.90 an ounce.

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