US STOCKS closed higher for a fourth straight day yesterday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its best finish so far this year as industrial and technology companies gained from a weak dollar.<br /><br />The dollar’s fall to a 2009 low helped to make US products more competitive overseas. Earth-moving equipment maker <strong>Caterpillar</strong>, rose 3.07 per cent to $48.41.<br /><br />Tech stocks were among the big gainers, with <strong>Google</strong> up 1.2 per cent at $463.97. But Nasdaq’s advance was limited by <strong>Apple</strong>, which fell 1 per cent to $171.14, after chief executive Steve Jobs’s appearance at a company event spurred further concerns for his health.<br /><br />The weak dollar seems to be the “new catalyst” in the market, said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average was up 49.88 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 9,547.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 7.98 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 1,033.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 22.62 points, or 1.11 per cent, at 2,060.39.<br /><br />The dollar’s fall pushed oil up, allowing US crude to settle at $71.31 a barrel and helping gold to trade near $1,000 an ounce.<br /><br />Dow’s top boost was <strong>Boeing</strong>, which rose 2.1 per cent to $50.53 after a senior executive said the firm expects global air cargo traffic to return to growth next year.<br /><br />Goldman Sachs upgraded <strong>Illinois Tool Works</strong> to “conviction buy” and lifted its price target on Dow components <strong>General Electric, United Technologies</strong> and <strong>3M</strong>.<br /><br />GE shares gained 2.6 per cent to $14.87 while Illinois Tool was up 5 per cent to $43.93. The S&P Industrials sector gained 1.55 per cent and was the top percentage gainer among S&P sectors.<br /><br />Also among tech shares, <strong>Ebay</strong> was also up 3.9 per cent at $22.98 after Bernstein upgraded the company, citing the turnaround in its core businesses and in used-auto sales.<br /><br />Volume was light on the New York Stock Exchange where 1.24bn shares changed hands, below last year’s estimated daily average of 1.49bn. On the Nasdaq, however, about 2.51bn shares traded, above last year’s daily average of 2.28bn.