NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks finished higher Wednesday after strong manufacturing reports from the U.S., Europe and Asia boosted optimism.
All but four of 30 components on the Dow rose. McDonald's (MCD), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Pfizer (PFE) and Chevron (CVX) fell, while Bank of America (BAC), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and United Technologies (UTX) led gains among the blue chips.
Stocks started higher Wednesday morning after a report from the Institute for Supply Management showed that U.S. manufacturing activity continued to increase at a faster pace last month, rising to 54.1 in January from a downwardly revised 53.1 the prior month. While slightly missing the estimate of 54.5, the reading indicating expansion supported strong data from Germany and China.In China, the world's fastest growing economy, factory indexes also improved. The official Chinese purchasing manager's index climbed to 50.5 in January from 50.3 the prior month, while a separate indicator from HSBC showed factory orders contracted the least in three months. Meanwhile, there was also reason for optimism in Europe as Germany, Europe's largest economy, saw output grow for the first time in four months. The U.K., too, saw manufacturing expand for the first time in four months. Also on the U.S. economic data front Wednesday was a preview of Friday's government jobs report from payroll processing firm Automatic Data Processing. Companies added 170,000 new jobs in January, according to ADP, falling short of the 185,000 estimate from Thomson Reuters. December payrolls were downwardly revised to 292,000 from 325,000. Monthly gains in employment have averaged 223,000 over the last three months, suggesting that the jobs recovery remains anemic.
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