Dow index forges upward past 13,200
NEW YORK » Stocks jumped yesterday, sending the Dow Jones industrials past 13,200 for the first time after a strong reading on U.S. factory orders stoked investor optimism about the economy. The Dow gained more than 75 points and secured its second straight record close.
The U.S. Commerce Department said orders to U.S. factories rose 3.1 percent in March -- the largest increase in a year. The increase easily outpaced the 2 percent rise analysts had been expecting.
Time Warner Inc. and Yum Brands Inc., parent of fast-food chains KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, each reported robust quarterly results.
"The stronger-than-anticipated earnings releases have definitely been the catalysts for pries to move higher and the merger deals continue to reduce shares in the market and put fresh cash back in investors' hands," said Tim Hartzell, chief investment officer at Kanaly Trust Co.
The Dow rose 75.74, or 0.58 percent, to 13,211.88. The blue chip index hit a fresh trading high of 13,256.33 after reaching 13,184.14 Tuesday.
Broader stock indicators also rose yesterday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 9.62, or 0.65 percent, to 1,495.92.
Wall Street has been eyeing the index, waiting for it to move back above 1,500; the S&P 500 hasn't closed above that level since September 2000.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 26.31, or 1.04 percent, to 2,557.84.
Bonds fell following release of the factory order data. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.65 from 4.64 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by more than 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 3.14 billion shares, down from 3.29 billion shares on Tuesday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 12.21, or 1.50 percent, to 828.46.
Light, sweet crude fell 77 ce- nts to $63.66 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after weekly government figures showed larger-than-expected domestic supplies.
On Tuesday, a takeover bid launched by News Corp. for Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones & Co. buoyed investor sentiment and sent stocks higher. While it remains unclear whether the family that controls Dow Jones will acquiesce and agree to a sale, Dow Jones fell 20 cents to $56 yesterday after jumping 55 percent Tuesday. News Corp. yesterday advanced 44 cents, or 1.9 percent, $23.43.
In other corporate news, Time Warner said its first-quarter earnings fell 18 percent. The media conglomerate's results topped Wall Street's expectations, however, as growth in the company's cable business boosted revenue. Time Warner rose 35 cents to $20.94.
Yum Brands rose $3.61, or 5.7 percent, to $66.73 after its earnings report showed its international operations turned in a tidy profit, helping results.
Not all quarterly reports pleased investors. Blockbuster Inc. fell 81 cents, or 13 percent, to $5.40 after the company said its first-quarter loss widened amid a weak market for movie rentals and heavy spending on its online rental program.