Global stocks rose, sending S&P 500 toward record close

Global stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:ESM14) toward a record close, as a report showed U.S. durable-goods orders increased more than forecast. The Australian dollar climbed to a four-month high.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent to 1,872.77 at 10:07 a.m. in New York, sending the gauge to within six points of its record set March 7. The MSCI All-Country World Index gained 0.6 percent and Russian stocks rose for a second day, trimming the biggest monthly decline since May 2012. The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell two basis points to 2.73 percent. The Aussie added as much as 0.9 percent to 92.45 U.S. cents. Oil climbed 0.8 percent.

Demand for durable goods in the U.S. increased more than analysts estimated in February, while bookings for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft fell for the second time in three months, Commerce Department figures showed. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak on what President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea means for European security. Australian central bank Governor Glenn Stevens said there are signs that domestic consumption is supporting the country’s economy as mining investment wanes.

“Investors will continue to look at the economic data right now,” Walter Todd, who oversees about $990 million as chief investment officer of Greenwood Capital Associates LLC in Greenwood, South Carolina, said by phone. “In the absence of any type of news overseas and no earnings besides a few retailers, the only thing to focus on is economic data.”

Quarterly Gain

The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent this month and 1.2 percent this quarter, putting it on course for a fifth consecutive quarterly gain. The index has accomplished that feat just seven times since its creation in 1957.

The gauge rose 0.4 percent yesterday after data showed confidence among American consumers at a six-year high, adding to reports indicating the economy is pulling out of a slowdown linked to unusually harsh winter weather.

Demand for durable goods -- items meant to last at least three years -- climbed a more-than-forecast 2.2 percent, reflecting the biggest gain in automobile demand in a year, the Commerce Department report showed today. Orders for U.S. business equipment fell in February for the second time in three months, signaling corporate investment will be slow to gain momentum after severe winter put a damper on demand.

“I have never seen a market so forgiving of the current environment,” Patrick Spencer, head of equity sales at Robert W. Baird & Co., said by phone from London. “People are looking through weather-related issues in the data to a better recovery in the second half. The market has given the economy the benefit of the doubt.”

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