US Stocks Rally After Factory Data; DJIA Hits Multiyear High

Date : 05/01/2012 @ 2:29PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD)
Quote : 3.45  -0.18 (-4.96%) @ 4:21PM

US Stocks Rally After Factory Data; DJIA Hits Multiyear High

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A surprisingly strong reading on domestic manufacturing prompted a rally in stocks and drove Dow industrials to their highest level in more than four years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 101 points, or 0.8%, to 13318 in Tuesday-afternoon trading, reaching levels not seen since Dec. 31, 2007.

The Standard Poor's 500-stock index tacked on 14 points, or 1%, to 1411 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 24 points, or 0.8%, to 3070.

After a flat open, stocks jumped following a report that showed the U.S. manufacturing sector's expansion rose in April to its highest level in nearly a year. The Institute of Supply Management's purchasing managers index reading for April topped forecasts and rose from the month earlier.

"You needed a second leg for [momentum in stocks] not to decelerate. The popular press was saying it's time to sell your stocks, that the fun has stopped. Then May kicks off, and you've got a piece of very good news," said Mark Lehmann, director of equities at JMP Securities in San Francisco.

Energy stocks led as all 10 of the S&P 500's sectors rose. Chesapeake Energy jumped 7.8% after the company's board and Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon agreed to separate the roles of CEO and chairman. The company also announced the early termination of a participation program that gave McClendon stakes in thousands of oil and gas wells. McClendon will remain as CEO, but he will relinquish his role as chairman.

Bank of America rose 3.1% and was the Dow's biggest gainer after The Wall Street Journal reported it has plans to cut about 2,000 jobs in its investment banking, commercial banking and non-U.S. wealth-management units, citing people familiar with the matter.

Sears Holdings jumped 18% after the company said it expects to announce an improvement in operations at its namesake stores when the retailer posts first-quarter results next month.

Pfizer was flat after reporting its first-quarter earnings fell 19% in the first full quarter since its blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor, lost market exclusivity last year. The company lowered its full-year earnings outlook to adjust for the pending sale of its nutrition unit.

Ford Motor and General Motors reported that U.S. sales fell, though both stocks gained ground with the broader market. Ford rose 0.3% reported that new-vehicle sales fell 5% in April from the prior year, while GM, up 1.6%, reported an 8.2% sales decline, but raised its full-year forecast for light-vehicle sales. Meanwhile, Chrysler Group's U.S. auto sales rose 20% in April as the auto maker saw particular strength in its namesake brand. Results from the Detroit auto maker, which is majority owned by Italy's Fiat, beat expectations.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4%, its fifth advance in six sessions. The FTSE 100 added 1.3% despite a weaker-than-expected reading on the U.K.'s manufacturing sector.

Asian markets were mixed. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rallied 0.8% to close at a nine-month high after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its key lending rate 0.50 percentage point to 3.75%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average slumped 1.8%.

Crude-oil futures rose 1.3% to $106.29 a barrel, while gold futures ticked down 0.1% to $1,662 a troy ounce. The U.S. dollar rose against the euro and the yen. The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose to 1.954%.

In other corporate news, P.F. Chang's China Bistro surged 30% after it agreed to be acquired by a private equity firm for a 30% premium over Monday's closing price. Word of the deal came as the restaurant operator also reported its first-quarter earnings fell more than 40% amid continued struggles in its massive turnaround effort.

Avon Products skidded 7.9% and was the weakest stock on the S&P 500 after reporting first-quarter earnings that were below expectations. Costs rose and operating margins declined.

Archer Daniels Midland rose 6.3% after the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings beat forecasts, but fell 31% amid an ethanol supply glut and weak European oilseed processing results. The company said reported stabilization in its global grain-trading business, and improvement in its North American oilseed processing business.

Agco surged 7.1% after the agricultural-equipment maker's first-quarter earnings climbed 50% on acquisitions and sales growth in Europe and North America.

WMS Industries fell 4.1% after the maker of slot machines and lottery terminals reported fiscal third-quarter results that missed analyst forecasts, with new unit sales revenue declining from year ago levels.

Office Depot slipped 3.6% after North American same-store sales fell in the first quarter, but the company swung to a first-quarter profit thanks to a large settlement.

Imperial Sugar shot up 58% after Louis Dreyfus Commodities agreed to buy the company in a cash deal that values the Texas sugar processor at about $78 million.

-By Chris Dieterich, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2611;

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