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Dow Climbs as Manufacturing Data Accelerate

Stocks in this article: ^DJI ^IXIC ^GSPC BHP YHOO WYNN LVS BHP F GM CELG

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock indices rose Tuesday after stronger-than-expected manufacturing data suggested the economy is shaking off a slow start to the year amid harsh winter weather.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.41% to 16,524.32, while the S&P 500 increased 0.62% to 1,883.89. The Nasdaq jumped 1.5% to 4,260.69.
  • "We're getting pretty definitive signs that we're pulling out of the weather funk," Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, said in a phone interview from New York. 
  • The U.S. composite index from the ISM manufacturing survey for March came in at a reading of 53.7, up from 53.2 previously, and it remained in expansionary territory. Construction spending increased 0.1% in February, as expected.
  • The final Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI registered 55.5 in March, unchanged from the earlier "flash" reading and down from 57.1 the previous month, but nonetheless at its second-highest level since January 2013.
  • Stocks exhibiting positive action Tuesday included Yahoo! (YHOO) and casino stocks Wynn Resorts (WYNN) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS). Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts were both popping more than 2% on news that gambling revenue growth in Macau increased 13% in March, which was at the higher end of analysts' forecasts. Yahoo! was rising 1.14% after The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is in preliminary discussions to acquire online video service News Distribution Network for $300 million. Celgene (CELG) surged 5% after announcing cooperation with a cancer-drug research firm.
  • The second-largest U.S. carmaker, Ford  (F), climbed 4.6% after March sales topped estimates. The company said deliveries rose 3.3% to 243,417 cars and light trucks last month. General Motors (GM) said its U.S. auto sales rose 4.1%, which beat expectations of just 0.8%. Shares slipped 0.23%
  • BHP Billiton (BHP) gained 2.1% after saying Tuesday it may further overhaul its portfolio amid reports the company is mulling a A$20 billion ($19 billion) divestment of less-profitable assets.
  • In the S&P 500, Intuitive Surgical  (ISRG) was the top gainer, soaring 12.7%, while NASDAQ OMX Group  (NDAQ) posted the worst percentage decline, losing 3.1%.
  • In global economic news, the eurozone unemployment rate was 11.9% in February, according to Eurostat. Estimates called for a jobless rate of 12%. The region's manufacturing sector showed improvement, with Markit reporting a final March reading of 53 for its eurozone manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index. France had its strongest reading since June 2011, with manufacturing returning to expansion with a result of 52.1 against 49.7 in February.
  • By contrast, Chinese manufacturing further weakened for a third month in March, with the HSBC China manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index falling to 48.0 from 48.5 in February, the worst result since last July.
  • Global markets were mostly higher. The Hang Seng closed 1.34% higher while the Nikkei shed 0.24%. The FTSE was gaining 0.82% while Germany's DAX was up 0.5%.
  • Markets closed higher Monday after dovish comments from Yellen assured investors that monetary policy would remain supportive.

-- Written by Andrea Tse, Jane Searle and Joe Deaux in New York

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