The 0.2 percent increase last month was better than what economists had predicted, but is more the result of increased spending on utilities during recent spates of cold weather around the country, rather than of an increase in spending on consumer goods, a key metric of underlying economic health.
Some favorable housing data provided yet another confirmation of a gradually strengthening market, with a report showing that, for the month of March, sales of previously owned homes had increased the most since April of 2010.
European Markets breathed a sigh of relief as Italy ended months of political deadlock by forming a government. Prime Minister Enrico Letta gave his first speech in his new role in which he stressed growth policies over austerity, leading many to predict that this will motivate the European Central Bank to lower interest rates in order to get the continent’s troubled economies out of a prolonged period of recession.
The S&P 500 approached a new record high with an increase of 0.72 percent to 1,593.61. Morgan Stanley closed the day up 3.75 percent to $22.20 on the good economic news, while Apple (AAPL) was up 3.10 percent to $430.12 on news that the company had filed regulatory paperwork to for its first debt sales, as well as renewed rumors of a new model of the iPhone 5 coming sooner than had been expected.
Shares for farming machinery manufacturer Deere & Company (DE) were up nearly 4 percent to $88.83 and FirstSolar (FSLR) extended its recent gains to end the day up 3.38 percent to $45.57. Meanwhile, Amazon dropped 2 percent to $249.74 on news of strong sales and increased competition from Microsoft’s (MSFT) Azure cloud computing services.
The Dow was also up 0.72 percent to close at 14,818.75, with tech stocks leading the way. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was up 2.65 percent to $20.50, followed by Microsoft up 2.58 percent to $32.61, and IBM (IBM) up 2.49 percent to $199.15.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Intel (INTC) were also up 1.5 percent each.
The Nasdaq closed the day at a gain of 0.85 percent to 3,307.02, where other techs were up like internet services company SinaCorp (SNA) whose shares jumped 9.40 percent to $55.03 as the company announced the 18 percent stake of its subsidiary, Alibaba, in Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Blackberry (BBRY) was up 3.93 percent to close at $15.61 as the company began the staggered release, in the UK over the weekend, of its much awaited Q10 model phone.
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