Stocks rallied shortly before the closing bell on Tuesday as Wall Street regained some confidence on better than expected economic data, as well as promises from Secretary of State John Kerry that any US intervention against the Syrian regime would be limited, and not metastasize into a “boots on the ground” level of involvement ahead of a planned congressional vote on the matter.
Two economic data points came in well ahead of expectations to kick off the third trimester of the year. The ISM manufacturing index for August jumped from July’s reading of 55.4 to a reading of 55.7, despite economists’ expectations for the number to drop to 53.9, and marking the highest reading since June of 2011.
Meanwhile the Department of Commerce reported better than hoped for construction spending figures in its report for the month of July. While the expectations had been for an increase 0.4 percent on a month-over-month basis, the actual figure came in at an increase of 0.6 percent, indicating a that the US economy is indeed sticking to its path of slow but steady growth.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended the day 0.42 percent higher to a finish at 1,639.76 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 14,833.96 points, a gain of 0.16 percent, and the NASDAQ was up 0.63 percent to 3,612.61 points.
Tech shares helped to lift the NASDAQ higher, with gains on heavy trading for Facebook (FB) , Micron Technology (MU) (one of 2013’s best performing stocks), Yahoo! (YHOO) , and Himax Technologies (HIMX) .
Techs also lifted up the S&P 500, with big gains for Electronic Arts (EA) and semiconductor manufacturer Xilinx (XLNX) . Basic materials stocks also did well, with Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) , Pioneer Natural Resources ($PXD), and CONSOL Energy (CNX) all ending the day higher.
Defense contractors United Technologies ($UTX) and Boeing (BA) were at the top of the Dow, along with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) also ending the day higher, on heavy volume, despite recent legal woes. Microsoft (MSFT) was a huge drag on the benchmark index, however, after investors evinced skepticism about the struggling tech company’s early-day announcement that it would be purchasing Nokia’s (NOK) devices and handsets unit, along with patents, for some $7.2 billion dollars. Shares had dropped over 4.5 percent ahead by the closing bell, to $31.88, and on nearly three times of the volume of the next most heavily-traded Dow stock of the day, Bank of America (BAC) . For its part, Nokia ended the day 31 percent higher to $5.12 per share.