This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. EST.
With a slowdown in China, rising emerging markets debt, falling corporate profits and oil prices, recession fears, a strong U.S. dollar and a climate of negative interest rates from Japan to Europe, the state of the global economy has more subplots than a George R.R. Martin novel right now. But history appeared to be repeating itself on the first trading day in March as U.S. stocks kicked off a strong start to a typically strong month.
“The month of March is likely to see further upward moves, with the indices nearing their all-time highs,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist of First Standard Financial, a New York-based broker-dealer, said in a note to investors. He cited improved investor confidence and a rebound in the Dow industrials, which ended February slightly in the black. “The strong rise in personal income and spending suggests that the footing of the economy remains on solid ground.”
Higher oil prices and positive U.S. manufacturing and construction news helped fuel the rally.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) closed Tuesday up 348.58 points, or 2.1 percent, at 16,865.08. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 46.12 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,978.35. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) rose 131.65 points, or 2.9 percent, to 4,689.60. The Dow closed at a 7-week high.
Stocks got a bounce Tuesday morning on positive news from U.S. manufacturers and positive news from U.S. new-vehicle buyers. The monthly ISM report for February showed a fifth consecutive month on contraction in manufacturing activity, but the decline was lower than expected, at 49.5 versus the 48.2 forecast by economists. Readings below 50 signal contraction. A separate Commerce Department report released Tuesday showed construction spending surged in January to its highest level since 2007.
Nine out of 10 S&P 500 sectors closed up Tuesday, with at least 2 percent gains in consumer discretionary, energy, financials, industrials, information technology and materials stocks. Utilities were down, a signal of higher confidence in the broader market. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) led Dow gains, while United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) was the only decliner by Tuesday afternoon.
Major Asian and European stock markets closed in the green Tuesday. Asian stocks were bolstered by China’s move to spur lending and economic activity by reducing the amount of cash its banks need to hold on reserve.
China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index of the mainland’s largest companies closed up 1.9 percent to 2,930.69. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.6 percent to 19.407.46. Japan’s Nikkei eked out a 0.4 percent gain to close at 16,085.51. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.9 percent to 4,922.25, while South Korea’s main Kospi Index closed down a slight 0.2 percent to 1,916.66.
European markets closed broadly higher on Tuesday. The broad Stoxx Europe 600 index ended the session up 1.4 percent. The Paris-based CAC 40 gained 1.2 percent to 4,406.84, while London’s FTSE advanced 0.9 percent to 6,152.88. Frankfurt’s DAX rose 2.34 percent to 9,717.16
The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury edged up Tuesday afternoon from its previous day close, to 1.82 from 1.75. The bond yield typically rises when investors are more confident about the markets and falls when concerns flare. Gold, another so-called safe-harbor investment, fell 0.3 percent Tuesday afternoon to $1,230.70. Gold prices tend to rise as confidence in the markets falls.
Oil prices registered gains Tuesday, spurred in part by China’s economic stimulus efforts. Traders have been anxious ahead of the next OPEC meeting this month during a second round of talks to cap crude output levels.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate gained 1.8 percent to $34.35 per barrel for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the other major global benchmark, gained 0.63 percent to $36.80 for May delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Stocks moving U.S. markets on Tuesday include:
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares closed up on the day the tech giant’s General Counsel Bruce Sewell before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the ongoing row between law enforcement and Apple over privacy and encryption. Apple’s stock is down nearly 5 percent since the start of the after a broader selloff in tech stocks last month.
Dollar Tree Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR) stock dropped early in the day after reporting fourth-quarter 2015 results that missed revenue and profit forecasts, citing a “challenging economic environment.” But by Tuesday’s closing bell the shares had followed the larger market back into the green. The company’s stock was up about 6 percent since the start of the year as of Tuesday afternoon.
Shares in Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), the Irish medical device manufacturer, reported that profit was in line with expectations, but its revenue was below forecasts. This was the first quarterly results since the completion of Medtronic’s $50 billion acquisition of former rival Coviden. Medtronic’s shares dropped nearly 5 percent on Tuesday afternoon.
AutoZone Inc. (NYSE:AZO) stock gained after the largest auto parts retailer in the U.S. handily beat analysts’ profit forecast and reported revenue in line with expectations for its fiscal second quarter ending Feb. 13. The company’s shares are up about 6 percent for the year.
Aerospace major United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) stock fell after rival Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) said it was no longer pursuing a merger with it. United Technologies shares are down about 2 percent and Honeywell’s stock is up nearly 4 percent since the start of the year.
Kate Spade & Co. (NYSE:KATE) shares rallied after the handbag and fashion accessories maker reported strong same-store sales growth and beat profit estimates for its latest quarter. Revenue fell slightly short of expectations. The company’s stock price is up about 21 percent since the start of the year.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (TSE:VRX) shares plummeted after the Canadian drugmaker said it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company’s stock price has fallen about 42 percent since the start of the year.