Wall Street paused near four-year highs on Tuesday, while a number of large-cap stocks hit new highs as portfolio managers grabbed top performers as the end of the quarter approached.
With the quarter ending Friday, portfolio managers adjusted holdings by buying some of the best performers to dress up their portfolio. About 80 percent of stocks across all sectors of the S&P 500, especially high-end retailers and technology, are above their six-month moving average.
Also hitting 52-week highs, Walt Disney Co
Disney later eased, down 0.4 percent at $44.22 at midday, while Home Depot shares were up 0.3 percent at $50.30.
Still, the overall market showed signs of fatigue. On Monday, major stock indexes rallied more than 1 percent after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that supportive monetary policy will remain in place.
What we are seeing now is just natural buying and strong momentum. Money is moving away from other assets and into equities, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.
Technicians say there will be a pullback in the market but when everyone is looking for a pullback, it rarely happens. This is why money keeps pouring back in.
The S&P 500 has jumped 12.6 percent this year and some investors believe further gains will be more difficult. The nearly 6-month rally, without a major correction, has come partly after accommodative measures by central banks around the world.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 3.71 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,245.34. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 0.76 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,417.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 7.21 points, or 0.23 percent, at 3,129.78.
In the latest economic report, U.S. consumer confidence dipped in March, while Americans ratcheted up inflation expectations to the highest level in 10 months.
Separately, U.S. single-family home prices were unchanged in January, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, suggesting a battered housing market continued to crawl along the bottom. Equities barely budged after either report.
Homebuilder Lennar Corp
(The bullets in the story has been corrected, second paragraph to say 80 percent of S&P stocks above six-month average)
(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)