U.S. stocks surge helped by economic data
NEW YORK — US stocks jumped Thursday as traders grew bullish on fresh economic indicators in the United States, Asia and Europe.
Gains on all three key indices topped 1.3 percent, with big rises among the Dow blue chips led by a 4.6 percent spike higher by Caterpillar and a 7.2 percent rise in Hewlett-Packard shares.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 181.19 points (1.41 percent) at 12,986.58.
The broader S&P 500 gained 18.85 (1.38 percent) to 1,387.56, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 39.09 (1.30 percent) to 3,055.55.
Analysts said sentiment was helped by a surge in lending in China and figures showing eurozone industrial production rose in February.
Helping as well was inconclusive data on US trade, producer prices and jobs that pointed to only modest economic growth in the first quarter.
Analysts said the data suggested the Federal Reserve would maintain its efforts to keep interest rates at record lows for the medium term.
“The US trade deficit narrowed substantially in February, adding hope for better first-quarter GDP growth,” said Jeffrey Rosen of Briefing Research.
“Looking at the details, however, the drop in imports could be an early sign that manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers are readying themselves to face potentially weaker consumer demand.”
Caterpillar was helped by the China and Europe data and its announcement that it sold for $400 million a part of its Bucyrus business to an Australian buyer.
Hewlett-Packard soared 7.2 percent after the Gartner quarterly report on personal computer sales showed HP had expanded its market share from a year earlier, despite sluggish growth in PC sales overall.
Mining giant Freeport-McMoran jumped 5.9 percent, and insurer American International group gained 4.3 percent.
Wednesday’s US Justice Department suit against Apple for colluding with publishers to jack up e-book prices helped keep it out of the market surge. Apple shares were down 0.6 percent at the close.
Rival Amazon, which dominates the e-book market and could benefit from the suit against its rival, rose 1.5 percent.
Google shares meanwhile jumped 2.4 percent ahead of its first-quarter earnings release. After the market closed the company announced profits up 24 percent from the same period last year, beating estimates.
Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.05 percent from 2.03 percent Wednesday while the 30-year yield was at 3.21 percent, up from 3.18 percent.