U.S. stocks rise as S&P 500 moves closer to record

TradingPub Admin | March 26, 2013

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U.S. stocks increased in value on March 26, 2013, and the benchmark S&P 500 Index moved one step closer to reaching an all-time high. 

Rising equities
The Dow Jones Industrial Average had a good day, rising 0.8 percent to reach a new all-time high of 14,559.26 at the close of trading at 4 p.m. in New York, according to Bloomberg. The blue-chip S&P 500 rose to 1,563.76, finishing the day up 0.8 percent.

The group of blue-chip stocks moved to around 0.25 percent less than its all-time high, before market participants took profits and pushed the index lower, Reuters reports. The record of 1,565.15, which was established on October 9, 2007, has been left unchanged. 

The S&P 500 also moved very close to reaching a new all-time high on the previous day, coming within 1 point of this peak before moving lower, according to Bloomberg. The benchmark index has moved above 1,560 on six separate occasions since March 14, but has been unable to break through to a new record level. 

Since reaching its local low point in March 2009, the group of stocks has surged more than 100 percent as the economy has improved and the sentiment of investors has become more optimistic, the media outlet reports. The S&P 500 Index has certainly had a strong year thus far, surging 9.4 percent in 2013, according to Reuters. This robust appreciation comes after the group of stocks spiked 13.4 percent in 2012. 

The top-performing stock in the index was Netflix, which surged 5.6 percent during the day, the media outlet reports. This happened after the price target of the company's shares was pushed to $225 from its previous level of $160 by Pacific Crest. 

Strong U.S. data
The continued strong performance that U.S. equities have been enjoying lately were attributed to the robust economic data that the nation has been reporting recently, according to the news source. Orders for durable goods increased in February, and the prices of single family homes sold in the nation surged in January at their fastest pace in six years. 

"The data continues to be pretty good out of the U.S. and that's part of the reason stocks are still up here at 1,550, even though we had some bad news out of Europe over the past few days," Paul Zemsky, who works as the New York-based head of asset allocation for ING Investment Management, which has $170 billion under management, told Bloomberg by phone. "Housing is a huge part of the economic recovery story and if housing prices rise, people feel better about their homes and generally more confident." 

Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at New York-based Miller Tabak & Co., told Reuters that "I think the batch of data was enough to convince investors that the U.S. economy is on the right track." 

He added that the optimism surrounding the nation's recovery is on the rise, telling the media outlet that "at this point, it's hard to argue that anything will derail the U.S. economy, and that is boosting investors' confidence as they continue to load up on equities."

Consumer confidence concerns
One economic indicator that could serve to dampen investor sentiment is consumer confidence, which dropped in March by more than expected, according to Bloomberg. Data provided by the Conference Board indicates that its figure for this sentiment fell to 59.7, down from a revised three-month high of 68 reached in February. 

The media outlet reports that a major factor that could have contributed to this bleak outlook was the ongoing fiscal disputes faced in Washington. 

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