Wall St rises on factory data; Tesla and Facebook jump
US stocks climbed after a reading on manufacturing activity hit its highest in nearly four years, while news about Facebook and Tesla drove their shares to record highs.
The major indexes swung between slight gains and losses in early trading, but were clearly in the black after noon and didn't look back. The S&P 500 ended less than 0.5 percent below its record close set last month at 1,848.38.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92.67 points or 0.58 percent, to end at 16,133.23. The S&P 500 gained 11.03 points or 0.60 percent, to finish at 1,839.78. The Nasdaq Composite added 29.591 points or 0.7 percent, to close at 4,267.545.
US factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, according to Markit's preliminary US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports.
Social networking giant Facebook said late Wednesday it would buy mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock, plus $3 billion worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp's founders. Facebook shares initially fell on the news, but closed up 2.3 percent at $69.63 after earlier hitting a record high of $70.11.
Tesla shares surged 8.4 percent to $209.97 after hitting an intraday record of $215.21.
European markets trimmed losses in late trading on the US factory report. News that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week buoyed markets, as it pointed to steadily improving US labor market conditions despite two straight months of weak hiring.
MSCI's all-country world equity index, a measure of equity markets in 45 countries, was down 0.23 percent. Its emerging markets index was down 0.92 percent, while the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading European shares closed down 0.10 percent to 1,337.34.