Wall Street staged an impressive rally Monday after the nomination of top White House economist Ben Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve...

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NEW YORK — Wall Street staged an impressive rally Monday after the nomination of top White House economist Ben Bernanke as the next Federal Reserve chief, with the Dow Jones industrial average soaring nearly 170 points.

Strong quarterly earnings from drug makers and lower oil prices bolstered the gains.

At the close of trading, the Dow had climbed 169.78 to 10,385.00, its largest single-day gain since a 206-point advance April 21.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, gained 32 cents to close at $25.10. Boeing, also a Dow stock, advanced $1.30 to $67.32.

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Broader stock indicators also rose sharply. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 19.79 at 1,199.38, and the Nasdaq composite index jumped 33.62 to 2,115.83.

Stocks were already rising when news came that President Bush picked Bernanke, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, to succeed Alan Greenspan when he retires in January.

Bernanke was widely seen as continuing Greenspan’s policy of fighting inflation.

Meanwhile, upbeat profit reports at Merck and Schering-Plough eased concerns prompted by Pfizer’s weak forecast last week. Encouraging results from American Express late in the day also lifted stocks.

Crude oil dropped to near three-month lows as Hurricane Wilma spared key production and refining facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

A barrel of light crude lost 31 cents to settle at $60.32 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

With no new data to give investors clues about the economy’s health, Monday’s trading was influenced by the Fed announcement and by earnings reports.

Merck, a Dow component, rose 82 cents to $27 after its profit rose 7 percent because of lower costs and news that it had beaten Wall Street views by 3 cents a share.

Financial-services firm American Express reported its quarterly profit grew 17 percent on growth in its domestic and international card businesses.

American Express added $2.39 to close at $49.54 but gave back 29 cents in after-hours activity.