By Dow Jones Business News, March 06, 2013, 03:27:00 PM EDT
By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks on Wednesday tallied mild gains, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained
on track to close at a record high for a second session.
The blue-chip index retained modest gains as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite meandered on either side of neutral.
Data showed a welcome rise in private-sector payrolls in February, a less-than-expected drop in U.S. factory orders
the month before and evidence of slowing retail sales from the Federal Reserve's Beige Book.
"I am getting worried about a temporary growth scare coming up," said Nick Raich, CEO of the Earnings Scout, an
independent microeconomic research firm specializing in corporate earnings trends in Cleveland, Ohio.
A day after closing at an all-time high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) furthered its gains, rising as much
as 66 points and lately up 57.14 points, or 0.4%, to 14,310.91. Read a commentary piece by the Charles Schwab CEO on
whether it's time to get into the market or get out.
Materials and financial companies fared best among the 10 major industry groups on the S&P 500 index, which added 3.43
points, or 0.2%, to 1,543.22, leaving it 22 points shy of its record-high finish hit in October 2007. Read a story on
the VIX's track record as a contrarian indicator.
"We're approaching all-time highs because we're at all-time levels of profit," said Raich. "Earnings growth for the
S&P 500 (SPX) reaccelerated form the third to fourth quarter, but there is going to be a temporary slowdown in first
quarter," he added.
The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) held flat at 3,224.18.
For every three stocks falling nearly four gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where 439 million shares traded as
of 3:10 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume neared 2.8 billion.
Ahead of the open, stock-index futures extended gains after Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported private-sector
jobs rose by 198,000 last month, exceeding expectations. The January jobs data were revised higher. See: Private-sector
jobs growth beats expectations.
"It all looks good; the numbers are showing roughly 200,000 now for the last two months," said Raich.
Other Wednesday data had the government reporting orders for U.S. factory goods in January declined by the most in
five months, hit by weak appetite for military hardware and commercial aircraft.
Among individual stock movers, Staples Inc. ( SPLS ) slid 7.3% after the office-supplies retailer projected profit
VeriFone Systems Inc. ( PAY ) added 9.1% after the manufacturer of credit-card terminals reported earnings that topped
Shares of Best Buy Co. ( BBY ) rose 3.2% after Jefferies Group Inc. hiked its view on the retailer to buy from hold.
On Tuesday, the Dow industrials surpassed their closing high reached on Oct. 9, 2007, just ahead of the global
financial meltdown. The index rallied 125.95 points, or 0.9%, to finish at 14,253.77, sailing past its all-time intraday
high of 14,198.10 set on Oct. 11, 2007. See: U.S. stock rally lifts Dow to record finish
In the commodity markets on Wednesday, oil for April delivery (CLJ3) fell 37 cents to $90.45 a barrel on the New York
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