Technology, commodity and consumer companies had the biggest gains among the 10 main groups in the S&P 500 today, while utility and consumer-staples shares fell the most.
Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and General Electric Co. rose more than 1 percent for the biggest gains in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Facebook Inc. climbed 2 percent after Bank of Montreal raised its rating on the shares.
Europe’s benchmark Stoxx 600 capped a 14 percent gain for the year, the biggest annual rally since 2009. ACEA SpA slipped 2.4 percent after saying it will sell its photovoltaic plants to RTR Rete Rinnovabile Srl. Bankia SA slid 3.2 percent. Viscofan SA climbed 6.8 percent for the biggest gain in the regional index.
The S&P GSCI gauge of 24 commodities drifted between gains and losses today, and was little changed for the year. Natural gas lost 3 percent to lead declines today. Hedge funds cut bets on U.S. natural gas to the lowest level since April as forecasts for warmer-than-normal weather in mid-January raised speculation that heating demand won’t be enough to erode a stockpile glut.
Money managers reduced net-long positions, or wagers on rising prices, by 13 percent in the week ended Dec. 24, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Dec. 28 Commitments of Traders report. It was the least since the week ended April 24. Gas has tumbled 14 percent from a one-year high on Nov. 23.
Zinc, copper, oil and aluminum increased at least 0.5 percent on signs of firming growth in China. Crude oil added 47 cents to $91.27 a barrel. Prices are down 7.7 percent this year.
China’s manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace since May 2011 in December. The final reading of a Chinese purchasing managers’ index by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose to 51.5, compared with 50.9 for a preliminary reading and 50.5 in November. A level above 50 signals expansion.
Gold for immediate delivery advanced as much as 0.8 percent to $1,669.05 an ounce as the budget impasse boosted demand for haven assets. Prices have gained 6.4 percent this year for a 12th straight gain as central banks from Europe and the U.S. to China pledged additional stimulus to spur economic growth.
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