NEW YORK - Stocks jumped yesterday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average past 13,200 for the first time, after a strong reading on U.S. factory orders stoked investor optimism about the economy. The Dow gained more than 75 points and secured its second straight record close.
The Commerce Department said orders to U.S. factories rose 3.1 percent in March - the largest increase in a year - amid strong demand for commercial aircraft and a sharp rise in an indicator of how much companies are investing in their business. The increase easily outpaced the 2 percent rise analysts had been expecting.
As investors begin to look toward tomorrow's Labor Department reports on March job creation and unemployment, they are also keeping watch over corporate profits as they try to determine how quickly the economy might be slowing and whether the stronger-than-expected earnings might continue to give stocks a lift.
Time Warner Inc. and Yum Brands Inc., parent of fast-food chains KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, each reported robust quarterly results.
"The stronger-than-anticipated earnings releases have definitely been the catalysts for prices to move higher, and the merger deals continue to reduce shares in the market and put fresh cash back in investors' hands," said Tim Hartzell, chief investment officer at Kanaly Trust Co.
The Dow rose 75.74, or 0.58 percent, to 13,211.88. The blue- chip index hit a fresh trading high of 13,256.33 after reaching 13,184.14 Tuesday. The Dow has set 16 record closes this year and 39 since the beginning of October; the latest closing high came Tuesday.
Broader stock indicators also rose yesterday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 9.62, or 0.65 percent, to 1,495.92.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 26.31, or 1.04 percent, to 2,557.84.
Bonds fell after release of the factory-orders data. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.65 percent from 4.64 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Light, sweet crude fell 77 cents, to $63.66, a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after weekly government figures showed larger-than-expected domestic supplies.