Closing Update: Stocks End with Moderate Gains as Factory Orders, Auto Sales Surprise Markets

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U.S. stocks ended higher, with the S&P 500 Index finishing near a two-month high, following a report showing factory orders exceeded forecasts. Better-than-expected auto sales during June also bolstered confidence in the world's largest economy. Most industry sectors finished with moderate gains, although energy stocks leapt to a better than 2% rise as crude oil continued its volatile path in recent sessions. Other commodities also gained.

U.S. factories orders rose 0.7% in May for the gain in three months, easing concern that manufacturing is faltering. New orders climbed by $3.3 billion to $469 billion after a slightly revised drop of 0.7% in April -- a decline previously reported as 0.6 percent. Excluding transporation, new orders rose 0.4%.

Auto-makers also reported better-than-expected June sales, led by a 15.5% increase for General Motors ( GM ) and a 7.7% rise for Ford Motor Co ( F ). Rival Toyota ( TM ) posted a 60.6% rise, also beating expectations.

GM shares were ahead nearly 6% while F maintained a 2% advance. TM ADRs were ahead about 1%.

But stocks eased slightly in late trade after the International Monetary Fund forecast 2% growth or the U.S. economy this year and 2.25% growth in 2013, lowering its previous projections. The U.S. remains "subject to elevated downside risks, in light of financial strains in the euro area and uncertainty over domestic fiscal plans," the IMF said in a statement today. In an April report, the IMF forecast U.S. growth of 2.1% this year and 2.4% in 2013.

In other company news, Barclays plc ( BCS ) chief executive Robert Diamond quit today with the embattled bank- which lost more than 2% - asserting Bank of England and Federal Reserve officials were well aware of the alleged manipulation of a key interest-rate by the bank and several of its rivals. The document was released ahead of Wednesday's appearance by Diamond in front of the British parliament.

U.S. crude was up $3.46 this afternoon, rising over 4%, to $87.21 a barrel in New York because of renewed fears of a military conflict with Iran. Iran reportedly again threatened to block a critical Persian Gulf shipping route in response to a European embargo of Iranian oil. Action by Iran would increase the risk for violence in the region, slowing tanker traffic.

August gold is up $24.30 to $1,622 an ounce while August silver is up 75 cents at $28.21 an ounce. July copper was 7 cents higher at $3.53.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 72.05 (+0.56%) at 12,943.44

S&P 500 up 8.51 (+0.62%) at 1,374.02

Nasdaq Composite Index up 24.85 (+0.84%) at 2,976.08

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index up 1.51%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.14%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.83%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+11.9%) FSM, Updates exploration results for mines in Mexico and Peru.

(+4.2%) STP, Signs agreement with IBC SOLAR to supply 50 megawatts of solar panels through the end of 2012.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-40%, hit new year lows) CHTP, FDA requests more information on Northera drug candidate.

(-7.5%, hit new year lows) GRPN, Co-founder and chairman Eric Lefkofsky will "step back" from active involvement in operations.

(-3.7%) OSIR, Released interim one-year results from trial for prospective treatment for first-time heart attacks.



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

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: BCS , F , GM , TM

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