Stocks climbed in a seesaw session yesterday, rising after the president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve signaled the central bank could...

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NEW YORK — Stocks climbed in a seesaw session yesterday, rising after the president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve signaled the central bank could change its interest-rate policy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68.78 to 10,481.60.

Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, advanced 20 cents to close at $27.38 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 28 cents to $67.02.

Broader stock indicators were sharply higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11.92 to 1,220.33, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 22.33 to 2,152.09.

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Wall Street moved higher after Philadelphia Fed President Anthony Santomero called increasing oil prices a “tax” and told CNBC it was too early to say whether the Fed would change its interest-rate policy in light of the hurricane’s wreckage.

Many traders took the comment as a signal that the Fed’s year-plus streak of rate increases might end sooner than expected.

“The president of the Philly Fed is saying the Fed has to adapt to changing circumstances,” said Todd Leone, managing director of equity trading at SG Cowen Securities. “With what’s going on in New Orleans, I don’t think the Fed can raise rates.”

Bonds, which had soared all day, rose even higher after Santomero’s comments, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipping to 4.02 percent from 4.09 percent late Tuesday.

Falling oil prices also helped stocks. After closing at a record high of $69.81 Tuesday, oil settled Wednesday at $68.94, down 32 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil prices swung wildly, at one point dropping more than $2 a barrel in trading on the NYMEX. Oil had climbed as high as $70.65 a barrel overnight before slipping after U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman’s morning announcement that the government would release oil from its petroleum reserves.

While the promise of borrowing from the nation’s petroleum reserves eased oil prices, gasoline prices, which depend on refinery capacity, soared. Refinery capacity was constrained before the hurricane, which has shut down eight Gulf Coast refineries. Gasoline futures surged 17.55 cents to $2.65 a gallon on the NYMEX, which is 72 cents, or 35 percent higher, than Friday’s closing price. In intraday trading yesterday, gas neared $3 a gallon.

“Three dollars a gallon at the pump will have an effect on the consumer,” said Brian Williamson, an equity trader at The Boston Company Asset Management.

Oil companies continued to trade higher. Exxon Mobil rose $1.29 to $59.90; Chevron rose 86 cents to $61.40 and ConocoPhillips rose $1.53 to $65.94.

Engineering and construction companies were the day’s darlings. Fluor rose $3.34 to $61.91; Washington Group rose $3.02 to $52.84, and Foster Wheeler rose $2.24 to $26.90. The Shaw Group, an engineering and construction company based in Baton Rouge, La., that is already advertising for workers to help its rebuilding projects, rose $3.05 to $21.10.