The rise in basic materials such as precious metals was caused by a weakening of the dollar against other currencies, HSBC analyst Howard Wen said. Commodities are typically priced in dollars and a decline in the currency allows overseas buyers to purchase materials at lower prices.
Materials companies were the biggest gainers of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500, rising 1.1 percent. Energy companies posted the second best return, increasing 0.8 percent. Those two groups have been among the weakest in the market this year.
On Tuesday the S&P 500 rose 5.54 points to 1,568.61. The index closed at a record high of 1,570.25 on April 2. The Nasdaq composite gained 15.61 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,237.86.
Alcoa, traditionally the first company in the Dow to report quarterly results, was flat at $8.39 after the company posted its earnings late Monday. Online auto retailer CarMax, home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, and the banks Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase report later this week.
On Tuesday, Cliff's Natural Resources, an iron ore mining company, rose $1.66, or 8.8 percent, to $20.45. The company's stock is still down 47 percent this year. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, another mining company, was up $1.34, or 4.1 percent, at $33.76.
First Solar soared after the solar panel maker issued a better-than-expected forecast for its 2013 results and solid predictions for the following two years, helped by continued growth in shipments. The stock price rose $12.31, or 46 percent, to $39.35.
Small company stocks lagged the market. The Russell 2000 index two points, or 0.2 percent, to 929.34. The index has slumped this month after rising 12 percent in the first quarter and performing better than both the Dow and S&P 500.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 1.75 percent Tuesday.