Stocks End Tough Month on Upbeat Note

Stocks capped their toughest month in more than a year on an upbeat note Wednesday, gaining ground despite the threat of more interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

Falling oil prices on hopes for talks between the U.S. and Iran encouraged buyers, who briefly sent stocks into the red after Federal Reserve meeting minutes said inflationary pressures were greater than expected.

Google , meanwhile, ended the day unchanged after a largely uneventful conference call with investors.

After the close, Sun Microsystems edged higher after announcing long-expected layoffs. The company will shed 4,000-5,000 jobs in the next six months, among other cost-cutting moves.

The Nasdaq rose 14 to 2178, the S&P 500 climbed 10 to 1270, and the Dow gained 74 to 11,168. Volume rose to 2.61 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.29 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 24-8 on the NYSE, and 20-10 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 83% on the NYSE, and 70% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 44-114 on the NYSE, and 71-85 on the Nasdaq.

ADC Telecom tumbled 20% on plans to acquire Andrew .

F5 surged 7% on a Citigroup upgrade.

Semtech rose 6% on its results.

Rambus , down 6%, became the latest to suffer from stock option grant timing concerns.

Ciena surged ahead of its earnings report Thursday morning.

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