STOCKS rose yesterday to 2009 highs after stronger manufacturing and retail sales data boosted commodity prices and shares of materials companies.<br />Yesterday&rsquo;s gains lifted the S&amp;P 500 above 1,050 for the first time since early October.<br /><br />The improvement in retail sales in August reassured investors about a rebound in US economic demand. A rise in the government&rsquo;s Producer Price Index signaled increased consumption of raw materials.<br /><br />Metals prices rose, sending shares of aluminum company <strong>Alcoa</strong> up 8 per cent, while steelmakers AK Steel&nbsp; rose 5.7 per cent and US Steel gained 4.8 per cent.<br /><br />The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index of commodity prices jumped 2.2 per cent for its biggest gain in more than a month, while the S&amp;P materials sector added 2.4 per cent.<br /><br />The rise in producer prices and a report showing stronger New York state manufacturing suggested demand is building for raw materials.<br /><br />&ldquo;To make things, you need stuff that comes from the ground, at least at the beginning of a recovery from recession,&rdquo; said Kim Caughey, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.<br /><br />Comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the recession was probably at an end also favored basic materials companies, Caughey said.