S&P 500 at record high on manufacturing pickup
NEW YORK — New signs of life in the U.S. manufacturing sector helped push the stock market to a record high Tuesday.
The Standard &Poor’s 500 index gained 13.18 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 1,885.52. That’s above its previous record of 1,878.04, set on March 7. The gains were broad, with eight out of the ten sectors in the S&P 500 rising.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 74.95 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,532.61. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 69.05 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,268.04.
Investors were encouraged by two mostly positive economic reports focused on U.S. manufacturing.
The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index rose to 53.7 in March, up from 53.2 in February, as the nation’s factories continued to rev up following the severe winter weather earlier this year. Separately, the Commerce Department said construction spending rose by 0.1 percent in February, after falling by 0.2 percent in January.
Both reports were the latest signs that the U.S. economy was beginning to thaw following a difficult winter.
The biggest gainer in the S&P 500 was the medical device maker Intuitive Surgical, which jumped $55.61, or 13 percent, to $493.60. The Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s newest surgical robotic system, which is designed to do minimally invasive surgeries.
Other biotechnology and medical device stocks also rose, a welcome relief for a sector that has been beaten down in the last three weeks. Celgene rose 5 percent, Gilead Sciences rose 4 percent and Amgen rose 2 percent.
Ford also was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 after reporting a bump up in sales last month. Ford’s U.S. sales chief John Felice says demand picked up in the middle of March, and the company’s top-selling F-Series truck sales gained 5 percent. Other automakers also reported higher sales, including Chrysler and Toyota.
Ford rose 72 cents, or 5 percent, to $16.32.
“It’s nice to see vehicle sales do well, even with the weather-related concerns last month,” said Neil Massa, senior equity trader at John Hancock Asset Management.
It was the first trading day of the second quarter, so Tuesday’s trading was likely impacted by fund managers moving money into the market for the first time after closing their books on the first quarter. The stock market had a choppy first quarter, with the S&P 500 rising only 1.3 percent. In comparison, the S&P 500 rose more than 10 percent in the first quarter of 2013.
Later this week, the market will get the closely watched U.S. jobs report. Economists expect that U.S. employers created 191,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.6 percent.
The March report will likely be the first “clean” jobs number investors will get this year, because the December, January and February reports were all affected by the winter storms that enveloped most of the country earlier this year.
“Markets will be quiet until we get that number,” said Jonathan Corpina, a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange with Meridian Equity Partners.
In other markets, bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.76 percent from 2.72 percent late Monday. The price of crude oil slipped $1.84 to $99.74 a barrel. Gold was little changed at $1,279.60 an ounce.