U.S. Stocks Post Solid Finish On Encouraging Economic Data

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks closed solidly higher on Wall Street Monday after encouraging global economic data kept investors in a buying mood.

Financial and technology companies powered much of the rally, which extended the market’s gains from last week, when the benchmark S&P 500 closed out its best quarter in nearly a decade.

In another hopeful sign, long-term bond yields rose above recent lows, following a sharp drop last month that flashed a possible recession warning, rattling Wall Street.

Those concerns were allayed Monday as new economic data suggested a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy. A gauge of U.S. manufacturing notched a big gain in March, while a separate report showed construction spending climbed in February. Meanwhile, an economic report out of China showed growth in exports, employment and orders.

The S&P 500 gained 32.79 points, or 1.2%, to 2,867.19, notching a three-day winning streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 329.74 points, or 1.3%, to 26,258.42. The Nasdaq composite climbed 99.59 points, or 1.3%, to 7,828.91. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 16.33 points, for a 1.1% gain, to 1,556.06.

Major European stock indexes finished broadly higher.

The S&P 500 index is up 14.4% this year, a big turnaround after the index skidded 14 percent in the final quarter of 2018.

Financial and technology companies powered the latest rally. Investors tend to favor those sectors when they’re confident the economy will continue growing. Bank of America gained 3.4% and Intel rose 1.5%.

Consumer product makers and utility companies, which are considered safe-play investments, lagged the market. Clorox fell 1.2% and NRG Energy slid 1.7%.

Bond yields continued rising, a sign investors are confident in the economy’s growth.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose sharply, to 2.50% from 2.41% late Friday. It also rose back above the yield on the three-month Treasury bill.

The rise in bond yields helped boost bank stocks. Higher bond yields mean that banks can benefit from higher interest rates on loans. Shares in JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Capital One Financial each posted a 3.4% gain.

Wholesale gasoline added 0.9% to $1.90 a gallon, heating oil picked up 0.8% to $1.99 a gallon and natural gas rose 1.7% to $2.71 per 1,000 cubic feet.