Stocks Soar Midday on Retail Sales Report, Fed Statement

Investment management firm Loomis Sayles is bullish U.S. stocks for 2012 and beyond
Investment management firm Loomis Sayles is bullish U.S. stocks for 2012 and beyond Reuters

U.S. stocks soared Tuesday in afternoon trading, amid strong reports of retail sales and business inventories and buoyant sentiments from the Federal Reserve.  

As of 3:40 pm EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 1179 points, again going above the 13,000 threshold. It was at 13,139.27 in late trading, a gain of 1.39 percent. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq was up 43.79 points to 3,027.45, its first time over the 3,000 mark in more than two weeks and a 1.47 percent gain.

And the S&P 500 Index gained more than 20 points, up 1.53 percent to 1,392.06.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce released two reports showing increased signs of economic growth. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.1 percent in February, their highest levels in five months. And the department also said that business inventories rose more than expected, increasing 0.7 percent from the previous month to a record level.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday that it expected moderate growth in the next few quarters, citing improved labor market conditions, unemployment rate and increased household spending and business fixed investment. This further pushed stocks up.

The Committee expects moderate economic growth over coming quarters and consequently anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate, the Fed said in a statement. Strains in global financial markets have eased, though they continue to pose significant downside risks to the economic outlook.

Among the big movers: Apartment Investment and Manage (AIV), Cabot Microelectronics Corp. (CCMP, up 7.6 percent), New York & Company, Inc. (NWY, up 8.3 percent). Big banks and technology companies also saw increased activity from investors, like Bank of America, Ciitgroup, JPMOrgan, First Solar and Micron Technology.

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