S&P 500 rebounds toward record on housing, durable-goods data

U.S. stocks rose, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rebounded to within four points of its record, after orders for durable goods climbed more than forecast in February and home prices increased the most since June 2006.

Monsanto Co. jumped 3.8% as the company and DuPont Co. agreed to dismiss their respective antitrust and soybean patent lawsuits. Netflix climbed 5.7% after Pacific Crest Securities LLC raised its price target on the company. Apparel retailers retreated, as Gap Inc. and Macy’s Inc. lost more than 1.6%.

The S&P 500 added 0.6% to 1,561.21 at 2:05 p.m. in New York, after the equity benchmark fell 0.3% yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 94.22 points, or 0.7%, to 14,541.97. Trading among S&P 500 shares was 15% below the 30-day average.

“The data continues to be pretty good out of the U.S. and that’s part of the reason stocks are still up here at 1,550, even though we had some bad news out of Europe over the past few days,” Paul Zemsky, the New York-based head of asset allocation for ING Investment Management, which oversees $170 billion, said by phone. “Housing is a huge part of the economic recovery story and if housing prices rise, people feel better about their homes and generally more confident.”

Equities rose as residential real estate prices increased in January by the most since June 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index released today. Orders for U.S. durable goods climbed more than forecast in February, propelled by automobiles and a rebound in commercial aircraft, a Commerce Department report showed.

Consumer Confidence

Consumer confidence slumped more than forecast this month as Washington’s budget battle soured Americans’ views of the economic outlook. The consumer confidence index dropped to 59.7 from a revised three-month high of 68 in February, data from the New York-based Conference Board showed today. New-home sales declined 4.6%, worse than the 3.9% median estimate, another report showed.

“We like to see what consumers do rather than what they say,” Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector analysis at Charles Schwab Corp., said in a phone interview. The San Francisco-based firm has $2.04 trillion in client assets. “They may say they’re less confident, but does that translate into their spending? So far we haven’t seen that. Retail sales have held up pretty well.”

The S&P 500 came within one point of its record 1,565.15 yesterday, before retreating as the bailout of Cyprus spurred concern bank deposits in other euro-area nations may be subject to levies to pay for rescues in the future. The benchmark gauge has climbed 9.5% in 2013. The Dow reached an intraday high last week after first surpassing its all-time high on March 5.

The bull market in equities entered its fifth year this month as the S&P 500 more than doubled from its bottom in 2009, driven by an unprecedented three rounds of bond purchases by the Federal Reserve.

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