Bulls Resume Party After Monday Siesta; Durable Goods, Housing Data Fuel Rally


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After taking a breather Monday, the U.S. equity party resumed Tuesday, with the Dow briefly flirting with yesterday's record intraday high of 14,556, rallying to just two points shy of that level in morning trade, before pulling back only slightly. Stocks were boosted out of the gate by a bullish pre-bell February durable goods order report, and continued strength in the S&P/Case-Shiller housing index.

February durable goods orders increased more than expected, generating a 5.7% reading, above the 4.6% gain that economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast. The gain was due primarily to an increase in orders in the transportation sector, particularly aircraft orders.

According to the Commerce Department, commercial aircraft orders surged 95.3% in February, flying higher agin after a 24% dip in January. Auto orders also revved higher, by 3.8%. Orders for capital goods declined 2.7%, their largest decline since July. Capital goods orders are important because they give insight into private-sector business investment. Core capital goods shipments, which are used in quarterly economic growth calculations, added 1.9% during the month. Overall, by stripping out the volatile transportation sector, orders fell 0.5% during the month.

Also lending ballast to renewed market enthusiasm was the lastest S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index. The index, which gauges the recent moving average of home prices, inched up a modest 0.1%. For the year, the index has tacked on 8.1% already, its highest level since Sept. 2010.

In other housing news, new home sales for the month slipped to 411,000 vs. an expected 420,000, and compared to 437,000 in January.

The March Consumer Conference reading also missed expectations at 59.7, with analysts anticipating the number to hit 66.5. The reading weighed in at 68.0 last month.

Overseas, most European bourses were trading modestly higher in anticipation of the reopening of banks in Cyprus, which will remain closed at least until Thursday. Asian exchanges were mixed, with little buying enthusiasm evident.

With the exception of precious metals, commodities were higher at mid-day. Oil was up $0.67 at $95.48 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.018 to $3.883 per million BTUs.

Gold futures were down $5.90 per ounce to $1,600.60, as the yellow ore continued to wrestle with the technically critical $1,600 level. Silver was down $0.09 to $28.725 per ounce. Copper was up $0.015 to $3.46.

Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite up 38.20 (+0.42%) to 9,061.15

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 94.01 (+0.65%) to 14,541.76

S&P 500 up 8.38 (+0.54%) to 1,560.07

Nasdaq Composite Index up 9.68 (+0.30%) to 3,244.98


Nikkei 225 Index down 0.59%

Hang Seng Index down 0.27%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.23%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.28%

DAX up 0.13%

CAC 40 up 0.72%


NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) up 85.47 (+0.65%) at 13,216.27

NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) up 21.45 (+0.39%) to 5,481.82

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) up 69.55 (+0.80%) to 8,786.13


(+) SONC (+7.8%) Shares reach new 52-week highs after company reported late Monday Q2EPS of $0.05 per share ex items, vs. the analyst consensus of $0.05 per share on Capital IQ. Revenue was $115 mln, vs. expectations of $113 mln. For FY 2013, the company expects same store sales growth in the positive low single digit range.

(+) BSFT (+4.6%) Stock rises in heavy morning trading after Raymond James upgraded the stock to Market Perform from Underperform, RTT News reports.

(+) PTEK (+32.8%, has hit new year highs) Shares jump after company says it has renewed its contract with Carnival Corporation & plc through December 2017.


(-) HA (-7.05%) Airline's shares grounded after company announced that it has signed a definitive purchase agreement with Airbus to acquire 16 new A321neo aircraft between 2017 and 2020, with rights to purchase an additional nine aircraft. The airline recently resolved key labor agreements with its pilot and flight attendant unions.

(-) ZIOP (-62%, hit new year highs) Stock craters in the wake of the company's disappointing phase 3 trial results. Earlier, the company said its Phase 3 trial of palifosfamide (ZIO-201) for the treatment of metastatic soft tissue sarcoma in the first-line setting (PICASSO 3) did not meet its primary endpoint of progression-free survival ( PFS ).

(-) CLMT (-4.4%) Shares slip after company said it priced an underwritten public offering of 5,250,000 common units at $37.50 per unit. Calumet also granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 787,500 additional common units.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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