Stock Market Today: S&P 500, Dow Spike to Record Highs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were advancing, putting the S&P 500 at a record intraday high and the Dow Industrials in spitting distance of 17,000 for the first time. A full docket of positive economic data releases, including U.S. car sales, key manufacturing data and reports of healthy growth out of China gave the run its initial boost.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 171 points, or 1%, to 16,998 in midday trading. The S&P added 18 points, or 0.9%, to 1979. The Nasdaq surged 63 points, or 1.4%, to 4471.

Detroit automakers reported June vehicle sales better than analysts expected, even with two fewer selling days than the month a year earlier.

General Motors (GM) posted a surprising gain in U.S. unit sales given a series of high-profile recalls. The automaker reported unit sales rose 1% in June to 267,461 compared to expectations of a 6.3% decrease. A day earlier, GM said it had added 8.2 million vehicles to its series of recalls. Year to date, the automaker has recalled a total 29 million units in North America. Shares climbed 2.6% to $37.24.

Ford  (F) saw unit sales drop 5.8%, compared to estimates of a 6.6% decline, while Volkswagen units tumbled 22%, compared to an estimated 4.3% decrease. Meanwhile, Chrysler and Nissan posted a 9% and 5% increase in units sold, respectively. 

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The ISM index, a measure of factory activity, held firm at 55.3, only slightly lower than 55.4 in May. Markit's PMI index of 57.3 was up from 56.4 in May and beat estimates of 57. The reading marked its highest point since May 2010.

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