The Fed stimulus has helped propel the S&P 500 higher by as much as 179 percent from its bear-market low in March 2009. The equity gauge climbed 1.3 percent in the first three months of 2014, its fifth consecutive quarterly advance.
Reports from hiring to factory output had shown weakness this year as freezing temperatures and mountains of snow kept shoppers indoors, grounded flights and made it harder for shippers to fill product orders.
“Growth appears not too strong to feed the Fed’s hawks but neither too slow to question the recovery, re-emphasizing the sweet-spot concept -- which should be the most favorable environment for risky assets in 2014,” Witold Bahrke, who helps oversee $55 billion as a senior strategist at PFA Asset Management in Copenhagen, wrote in an e-mail.
Investors have removed $3.7 billion from U.S. equity exchange-traded funds in the past five days and added $1.3 billion to bond ETFs, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Financial stocks saw the most money removed among industry ETFs, losing $489.2 million during the past week.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a gauge for U.S. stock volatility known as VIX, was little changed after retreating 5.6 percent to 13.10 yesterday, the lowest level since January.
Five of the 10 main S&P 500 industries advanced today. Consumer-discretionary stocks added 0.4 percent, headed for a fourth day of gains after a five-day losing streak. Phone stocks rose 0.6 percent for the biggest gain.
Intuitive Surgical Inc. rose 2.7 percent to $506.95. The stock jumped 13 percent yesterday as the Food and Drug Administration cleared a major upgrade of the company’s da Vinci robotic surgery system. JMP Securities LLC upgraded its rating today to market outperform from market underperform.
MannKind surged 79 percent to $7.19. The biopharmaceutical company moved a step closer to getting its first product on the market after Food and Drug Administration advisers recommended that the FDA approve its Adfrezza drug for treating Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The agency doesn’t have to follow the panel’s recommendation.
Apollo Education slipped 6.7 percent to $32.82. The owner of the University of Phoenix said the department’s Office of the Inspector General demanded records going back to the beginning of 2007 relating to a centralized service center in Columbia, Maryland.
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