U.S. stocks rose, extending the biggest first-quarter advance since 1998 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as stronger-than-forecast growth in consumer sentiment and spending bolstered optimism in the economy.
Stocks rose today as government data showed U.S. consumer spending increased 0.8 percent in February, the most in seven months. Separately, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for March rose to 76.2. Economists projected a reading of 74.5.
Investors also watched the latest attempts in taming Europe’s debt crisis. European (SXXP) governments capped fresh rescue lending at 500 billion euros ($666 billion), after a Germany-led coalition opposed a further expansion of the firewall.
Dow 13,202.92 +57.10 +0.43%, Nasdaq 3,098.50 +3.14 +0.10%, S&P 500 1,408.71 +5.43 +0.39%
Nine out of 10 groups in the S&P 500 rose today as health- care, consumer staple and energy companies had the biggest gains. Twenty-seven out 30 companies in the Dow advanced.
Halliburton, the world’s largest provider of hydraulic-fracturing services, rose 1.5 percent to $33.26. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, gained 1.3 percent to $79.94.
Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. climbed 2.5 percent to $31.01. The 4.8 percent drop in the oil and gas company’s shares yesterday after the occurrence of a flash fire at the Williams Partners LP-operated Lathrop compressor station in Pennsylvania was “overblown,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a note.
Walt Disney (DIS) added 1.4 percent, the biggest advance in the Dow, to $43.59 after Lazard raised its recommendation for the shares to buy from neutral.
Apple, the most valuable technology company, lost 1.4 percent to $601.52. Profit margins are poised to start falling in the U.S. as they have worldwide, according to Pierre Lapointe, Brockhouse & Cooper Inc.’s global macro strategist.
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