The Dow gained about 123 points, and the Nasdaq gained about 39 points, led by gains in energy
Richard Drew / AP
By JeeYeon Park, CNBC.com
Stocks slipped slightly from session highs but still closed broadly higher Tuesday, led by gains in the energy sector, following a handful of economic news that helped boost market confidence.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 123.14 points, or 1.03 percent, to finish at 12,076.11.
The S&P 500 rose 16.04 points, or 1.26 percent, to close at 1287.87, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 39.03 points, or 1.48 percent, to 2,678.72. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, tumbled more than 6 percent to trade around 18.
The Dow and Nasdaq are seeing their best gains since Apr. 20, while the S&P is having its best day since Mar. 21.
All key S&P sectors were in the green, led by growth plays energy, industrials and materials.
Bernanke warned that a failure to lift the government's debt ceiling risks a loss of confidence in America's creditworthiness, saying the U.S. could lose its AAA credit rating and the greenback's status as the reserve currency could be damaged.
"Even a short suspension of payments on principal or interest on the Treasury's debt obligations could cause severe disruptions in financial markets and the payments system," Bernanke said at an event sponsored by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
On the tech front, Google advanced after the search-engine giant unveiled new features to accelerate search results and simplify the process for smartphone users.
Most big financials pared earlier gains, including BofA and Citigroup.