IP stock price hits 52-week high, while Dow, S&P set records

Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) |

July 01--International Paper Co.'s stock price reached a 52-week high as the Dow set a record Tuesday, tugging along the share price of an array of Memphis companies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to within two points of 17,000, pushed up by investors cheered by new reports of stable factory output in the United States, China and Japan.

While the Dow average rose as high as 16,998.70 before closing at 16,956.07, a 0.8 percent gain, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 0.7 percent to 1,973.32, also a record close.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average, which includes Memphis-based FedEx Corp., climbed as well on expectations the economic recovery will gain speed and boost deliveries. While the transportation average gained 0.7 percent, FedEx stock rose $1 to close at $152.38, a 0.66-percent gain.

International Paper climbed, too, aided by recent reports of a favorable profit outlook and a deal completed Tuesday to spin off its struggling xpedx distribution business. IP will pocket $400 million in cash and own 51 percent of the new company, Veritiv Corp.

International Paper stock closed at $50.81, a gain of 34 cents, surpassing the 52-week high set on Monday of $50.65.

Other Memphis companies that recorded sizable gains in their stock prices on Tuesday included AutoZone Inc., Education Realty Trust Inc., First Horizon National Corp., Verso Paper Corp. and Wright Medical Group Inc.

Stock analysts were heartened by the broad rise in stock prices across an array of industries.

"The breadth sends a message about the strength of the bull," said Rex Macey, chief allocation officer at Wilmington Trust in Atlanta. "People are comfortable with the story of the economic backdrop that we've got going on. People feel like they're missing the boat and they want to get on."

The confidence among investors was fueled in part by financial data firm Markit reporting its U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 57.3 in June, the highest since May 2010.

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Bloomberg News contributed to this article.

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