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Cautious rallies in US

US stocks closed higher last night after materials shares rose, but rising commodities prices due to turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa could keep rallies modest.

The market's favoured indicator of anxiety, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index or VIX, showed investor worry over unsettled world situations had tempered. But the lack of volume and moderate gains suggested optimism was limited in scope.

The Dow Jones gained 67.39 points to 12,086.02.