HARI SREENIVASAN: Wall Street rallied today, due in part to an upbeat report from a closely watched source, Alcoa. The aluminum company projected demand for the metal will increase in 2012. That is taken as a sign of economic growth and improved earnings for more sectors of the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 69 points to close at 12,462. The Nasdaq rose nearly 26 points to close at 2,702.
A bomb tore through a busy market in Northwest Pakistan today, killing at least 30 people. The blast hit vehicles of an anti-Taliban militia in the Khyber region, near the Afghan border. Local officials reported more than 50 people were wounded. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Across the border, in Afghanistan, Taliban insurgents stormed a government building in the east -- 10 people died in the firefight that followed there. The target was the government telecommunications office in Sharan, the provincial capital of Paktika province. The region is one of the main routes for Taliban fighters infiltrating from Pakistan.
U.S. forces staged another sea rescue of Iranians in distress early this morning. This time, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter plucked six crewmen from an Iranian cargo ship that was foundering in the Persian Gulf. The cutter was part of a U.S. naval task force. Last Thursday, a U.S. Navy warship in the Arabian Sea rescued 13 Iranian fisherman from Somali pirates.
The first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections wound to a close today. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions were expected to take 60 percent of the nearly 500 seats in the lower house of Parliament. Meanwhile, a leading secular party said it would boycott upcoming elections for the upper house. It said it was protesting alleged voting violations by the Islamist groups.
Those are some of the day's major stories.