Stocks Get Lift as Google Breaks $900

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The benchmark indices pushed to fresh highs amid mixed economic data as Google zoomed to historic territory.

The S&P 500 rose 0.51% to 1,658.78 as investors cheered a stronger-than-expected housing report offsetting sobering data on U.S. manufacturing.

Google ( GOOG), operator of the world's most popular search engine, booked its largest gain since April 19 gaining 3.3% to $915.89 ahead of its annual software developers' conference, dubbed "Google I/O." At the San Francisco event, the company announced an immediate launch of a music streaming service dubbed Google Play Music All Access Subscription Music Service. Google's stock gains have outpaced the Nasdaq as shares have risen more than 29% in 2013.

"I would be of the camp that thinks stocks are still reasonably valued" and still have room to move higher, Kent Croft, chief investment officer of Croft Funds -- a firm that manages more than $900 million -- said in a phone interview.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.4% to 15,275.69. The Nasdaq tacked on 0.26% to 3,471.62.

The National Association of Home Builders' housing market index showed an improvement in builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes. The index improved three points to 44 in May from April, which was better than the expected increase to 43 as builders noted an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies.

"This is definitely an encouraging sign even amidst rising challenges with regard to the cost and availability of building materials, lots and labor," NAHB chairman Rick Judson, a home builder from Charlotte, N.C., said in a statement.

Macy's ( M) rose 2.5% to $48.57 after the department store operator hiked its quarterly dividend by 25%. Same-store sales improved by 3.8% in the first quarter, but fell short of the consensus analyst target of a 4.3% increase, according to Thomson Reuters. Total sales rose 4% to $6.39 billion, in line with expectations. Quarterly earnings per share beat estimates by 2 cents at 55 cents a share.

Agilent Technologies ( A) added 3.9% to $45.68 after the testing equipment maker's quarterly earnings beat estimates by ten cents at 77 cents a share, offset by a lower-than-expected current quarter guidance of 60 cents to 64 cents a share as the company announces a restructuring that will result in a two percent cut to its workforce worldwide.

Deere ( DE) issued a cautious demand outlook. Shares lost 4.4% to $89.64 after the world's largest agricultural-equipment maker warned that sales were at risk of being tempered by financial pressures and adverse weather patterns.

The Federal Reserve reported that industrial production fell by a greater-than-expected 0.5% in April following a downwardly-revised 0.3% rise in March. Capacity utilization rates fell to 77.8% from a downwardly-revised 78.3%. Economists expected production to fall 0.2% and capacity utilization rates to come in at 78.3%.

The New York Federal Reserve meanwhile reported that the Empire State manufacturing index fell four points to negative 1.4 in May. A rise to 4 was expected by economists, on average, according to Thomson Reuters.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the producer price index fell by a more-than-expected 0.7% in April after dipping 0.6% in March. Excluding food and energy, core prices ticked up 0.1%, as expected, up from a 0.2% rise the prior month. Economists, on average, expected the ppi to fall 0.6%.

The European Union's statistics office in Luxembourg reported Wednesday that euro area growth fell by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013 after falling 0.6% in the fourth quarter. This worse-than-expected report was offset by Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King's remarks Tuesday that there has been a "welcome change in the economic outlook," where growth will be a little stronger and inflation a little weaker than what he expected three months ago.

June gold futures tumbled $28.30 to $1,396.20 an ounce. June crude oil contracts settled up 9 cents to $94.30 a barrel.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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