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Stocks snap higher following encouraging signs on US economy

Stocks are jumping Tuesday as investors hit the “buy” button following some encouraging signs of strength in the U.S. economy. The government reported that construction spending reached its highest level in eight years in January, and the beaten-down manufacturing sector also showed signs of life. Banks, which have been the worst-performing sector on the market so far this year, led the way higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 329 points, or 2 percent, to 16,845 as of 1:50 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index jumped 41 points, or 2.1 percent, to 1,972. The Nasdaq composite climbed 112 points, or 2.5 percent, to 4,669.

IF YOU BUILD IT: The Commerce Department said construction spending rose 1.5 percent in January as outlays on nonresidential buildings and government projects rose. That was the largest gain in eight months and the highest level in eight years.

A separate report said manufacturing continued to decline in February, however the result was still the best in six months as new orders and production increased.

The reports, which came out at 10 a.m., were good signs about the health of the U.S. economy. Stocks surged and bond prices fell as a result. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.82 percent from 1.74 percent.

BANKS: Bank of America picked up 63 cents, or 5 percent, to $13.15 and JPMorgan Chase gained $2.44, or 4.3 percent, to $58.75, leading financial stocks higher. The S&P 500’s financial index has slumped 9 percent this year, worse than any other industry, as investors worry about loans to energy companies and low interest rates.

RALLYING: Tech and consumer stocks rose, with the biggest gains going to familiar names. Apple gained $3.86, or 4 percent, to $100.55, its first time over $100 in more than a month. Alphabet, the parent of Google, rose $19.28, or 2.7 percent, to $736.50. Microsoft picked up $1.64, or 3.2 percent, to $52.52 and Facebook stock added $2.37, or 2.2 percent, to $109.29.

The strong dollar has hurt tech stocks, which do a lot of business outside the U.S., because it makes their products more expensive and cuts into their revenue.

Among consumer stocks, Amazon jumped $21.10, or 3.8 percent, to $573.62, and Netflix advanced $4.41, or 4.7 percent, to $97.82. Starbucks rose $1.86, or 3.2 percent, to $60.07.

THE QUOTE: Karyn Cavanaugh, senior markets strategist for Voya Investment Management, said investors abandoned tech and bank stocks as the market slumped in January and February.

“They’ve just been beaten with a stick this year,” she said. “Earnings have not been that bad and the companies’ financials are not that bad.”

Cavanaugh said investors are pleased with the construction and manufacturing reports, and relieved that the dollar and oil prices seem to have stabilized.

EARNINGS: Hertz climbed after the company said it cut costs and improved the management of its rental fleet. The stock, which has been trading at its lowest since 2009, jumped $1.16, or 13.7 percent, to $9.67.

Kate Spade gained $1.85, or 9.3 percent, to $21.66 after the clothing, handbag and accessories maker gave a strong profit forecast for 2016. Human resources software company Workday reported a smaller loss and better-than-expected sales. The stock rose $6.44 or 10.7 percent, to $66.89.

Medical device maker Medtronic gave up $$3.35, or 4.3 percent, to $74.04 after its sales fell short of analysts’ projections.

AUTO SALES: Automakers began reporting their monthly sales. Ford climbed 54 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $13.05 after its sales rose almost 20 percent, a better gain than analysts expected. GM’s sales fell as it tries to shift its business away from rental sales, but its stock gained 52 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $29.96.

Overall, experts think sales will grow about 8 percent from last February, to about 1.36 million.

Auto parts supplier BorgWarner rose $1.38, or 4.2 percent, to $34.06, and navigation device maker Garmin added $1.26, or 3.1 percent, to $41.77.

WALKING AWAY: Industrial conglomerate Honeywell said it’s giving up on its effort to buy rival United Technologies. It said the company wasn’t willing to negotiate a deal. Honeywell had offered to buy United Technologies for $108 per share, or about $90 billion.

United Technologies, which was one of the best Dow performers in February, slumped $2.18, or 2.3 percent, to $94.44. Honeywell rebounded $3.89, or 3.8 percent, to $105.24.

ENERGY: Oil prices also moved higher. Benchmark U.S. crude added 63 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $34.38 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 22 cents to $36.79 a barrel in London. Natural gas, which closed at a 17-year low on Monday, climbed 5 cents to $1.76 per 1,000 cubic feet.

OVERSEAS: Global stocks rose after China’s move to support bank lending helped offset concern over a drop in manufacturing in the world’s second-largest economy. Germany’s DAX climbed 2.3 percent and France’s CAC-40 added 1.2 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.6 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.0866 from $1.0884 late Monday and the dollar rose to 114.02 yen from 112.82 yen.

METALS: The price of gold slipped $3.60 to $1,230.80 an ounce and silver decreased 16 cents to $14.76 an ounce. Copper gained 1 cent to $2.15 a pound.


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