US STOCKS HAVE pushed to new record highs, bolstered by solid US manufacturing orders and strong results from US automakers.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time record high of 14,662.01, up 89.16 (0.61 per cent), while the broad-based S&P 500 also reached a new record, gaining 8.08 (0.52 per cent) at 1,570.25 – bringing the stock markets to levels not seen since before the global financial crisis.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also added 15.69 (0.48 per cent) at 3,254.86.
The rally followed a US Department of Commerce report that showed new orders for manufactured goods rose 3.0 per cent in February, topping expectations of a 2.6 per cent increase.
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported their best US monthly sales performances since 2007. GM cited “a strengthening economy and new products” as factors behind the result.
GM gained 0.5 percent, while Ford added 0.9 per cent.
Oil refiners took a beating after Valero said new US environmental regulations would cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Valero dropped 5.7 peR cent.
Marathon Petroleum slid 4.9 per cent and Phillips 66 lost 3.5 per cent.
Health-care equities rose after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would increase payments under the Medicare Advantage program by 3.3 per cent in 2014 instead of cutting payments as previously expected.
Dow component UnitedHealth Group Inc. jumped 4.7 percent, Humana put on 5.5 percent, Aetna added 3.7 percent, WellPoint rose 1.5 per cent and Cigna climbed 2.9 per cent.
Youth-oriented clothing chain Urban Outfitters rose 3.8 percent after disclosing in an SEC filing that comparable store sales in the current quarter were “high single-digit positive.”
Nuance Communications, which provides dictation and transcription services, among other voice and language services, gained 5.7 percent after activist investor Carl Icahn took a 9.3 percent stake in the company.
Hewlett-Packard shed 5.2 percent after Goldman Sachs lowered its rating to “sell” from “neutral.”
Delta Air Lines fell 8.1 percent after trimming its estimates for March 2013 air travel business.
The Nasdaq OMX Group, which runs the Nasdaq Exchange, dived 12.8 percent after announcing an acquisition of the eSpeed platform for electronic trading in US Treasuries.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.86 percent from 1.84 percent late Monday, while the 30-year increased to 3.10 percent from 3.09 percent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.