Dow, S&P in Record Terrain; Factory Orders, Auto Sales Fuel Bull Run

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U.S. stock markets have shrugged off yesterday's disappointing ISM data, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index running to fresh all-time highs in morning trade. Strong factory orders and March auto sale figures were supporting the ongoing bull rush in U.S. equities. There was also a strong showing by European bourses, which reopened for the first time since Thursday after a long holiday.

U.S. February factory orders, which were expected to rise 2.9%, weighed in at a healthy 3%, after a 2% drop in January. Meanwhile, auto sales, which were forecast to slow to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.3 million from 15.4 million in February according to Edmunds, have revved up the morning session's dealings, with more possibly to come from other automakers later.

Both General Motors Co. ( GM ) and Ford ( F ) have posted impressive March sales numbers. GM said that its best March sales results were the best in five years. GM sold 245,950 vehicles in the United States in March, up 6% compared with a year ago. Retail sales increased 4%, fleet sales were up 12% and the fleet mix was 27% of total sales. Despite the excellent numbers, GM shares have edged lower, down 0.3% at $27.75.


Meanwhile, Ford shares motored almost 2% higher to $13.15 after the company announced March auto sales increased 6%, its best sales results since May 2007, with car sales even with a year ago, utilities up 14% and trucks up 6%. The company's newest lines of vehicles, Fusion and Escape, set all-time monthly sales records. Other auto makers are expected to report their sales figures later today.

In addition to auto stocks, health insurers are in the spotlight following Monday's after hours announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that they will be boosting Medicare Advantage reimbursement rates, rather than cutting them as initially proposed. Most equities in the sector are trading higher, led by UnitedHealth ( UNH ), which topped out earlier in the session at a new 52-week high of $63.95, and remains up about 7%.

Overseas, European stocks opened higher for their first day of trading since last Thursday, as a widely-feared potential run on the banks in Cyprus didn't materialize. Asian markets ended mixed.

Commodities were lower at mid-day, with crude oil slipping $0.67 to trade at $96.40 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.051 to $3.964 per million BTUs.

Gold futures were down sharply, off $17.80 per ounce to $1,583.10, and silver was down $0.479 to $27.465 per ounce. Copper was down $0.014 to $3.36.

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

NYSE Composite up 51.97 (+0.57%) to 9,109.54

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 95.61 (+0.66%) to 14,668.46

S&P 500 up 10.15 (+0.65%) to 1,572.32

Nasdaq Composite Index up 24.62 (+0.76%) to 3,263.69

GLOBAL SENTIMENT:

Nikkei 225 Index down 1.09%

Hang Seng Index up 0.31%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.29%

FTSE 100 Index up 01.24%

DAX up 1.79%

CAC 40 up 1.95%

NYSE SECTOR INDICES:

NYSE Energy Sector Index (^NYE) up 34.69 (+0.26%) at 13,234.93

NYSE Financial Sector Index (^NYK) up 52.86 (+0.97%) to 5,496.72

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index (^NYP) up 101,85 (+1.14%) to 9,011.44

UPSIDE MOVERS:

(+) URBN (+3.9%, have touched $1 higher) Stock jumps after clothing retailer said in a regulatory filing late Monday that it expects same store sales for Q1 to increase in the high single digits. Analysts polled by FactSet are projecting a growth of 9.1%.

(+) OMPI (+16.3%) Shares surge to new year top of $22.93 after Merz Pharma Group announced what it called a "superior proposal" to acquire the group for cash. Merz said it proposes to acquire all of Obagi's shares for $22 a share cash and the offer was not conditional upon financing or due diligence.

(+) HTZ (+7.2%, hit year high earlier) Shares rise to 52-week high of $24.01 as company webcasts its annual investor meeting.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS:

(-) INO (-9.9%) Shares slide after company released disappointing preliminary clinical trial results by its collaborator ChronTech AS of their open label phase II clinical study of ChronVac-C, ChronTech's vaccine to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

(-) AFFY (-7.7%, nearer year lows) Beaten down issue sheds more market cap following the company's report of a Q4 loss of $1.85 per share, versus the Capital IQ consensus of $0.61 loss per share. Revenues were $14.8 mln, versus the analyst estimate of $14.88 mln.

(-) HPQ (-6.2%) Stock falls on Goldman downgrade to Sell from Neutral.



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: F , GM , UNH

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