Stocks had a strong day as the bull market continues to run. A good retail sales number boosted stocks early, while a big dividend increase and buyback announcement from JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM - News) late in the day sent Financials soaring, helping lift the rest of the market. Technology stocks, meanwhile, also continue to outperform, helping the Nasdaq close above 3,000 for the first time in more than a decade. While we're still expecting some type of spring/summer pullback, as of now let the good times roll. Also note that since 2001, April has been the best month for stocks by a wide margin, up an average of 2.7% and generating positive returns eight of 11 years.
The Money Center Bank Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by JP Morgan Chase with a 7% gain. The Dry Bulk Shipping Stocks Index was the day's worst performing tickerspy Index, with Safe Bulkers (NYSE: SB - News) down -9%.
Stocks soared on the day, led by a 56-point, or 1.9%, gain, in the Nasdaq to 3,040. The Dow climbed 218 points to 13,178, while the S&P jumped 25 points to 1,396. Oil edged up 37 cents to $106.71 a barrel, while gold fell -$5.60 to $1,694.20 an ounce.
In economic news, the Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 1.1% in February following a 0.6% increase in January. A 1.6% rise in auto sales helped lead increases in 11 of 13 categories. Economists were looking for a 1.0% increase. The Commerce Department also said inventories rose 0.7% in January following a 0.6% increase in December. Economists had expected a 0.5% gain in January.
In earnings news, shares of financial data provider FactSet Research (NYSE: FDS - News) surged 8.6% after the company said its fiscal second-quarter profit climbed 3% to $46.7 million, or $1.02 per share, from $45.25 billion, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 12% to $199.4 million. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.00 per share on revenue of $198.2 million. For the third quarter, FactSet expects to earn $1.14-$1.16 a share on revenue of $200-$204 million. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.03 on revenue of $202.2 million.
Shares of apparel retailer Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN - News) plunged -5.3% after the company said its fourth-quarter profit fell to $39.3 million, or 27 cents a share, from $75.2 million, or 45 cents a share, a year earlier and that it expects to discount more items this year. Sales increased 9% to $730.6 million. Analysts had expected a profit of 29 cents a share on revenue of $740 million. Six pros counted Urban Outfitters among their top holdings at the end of Q4 and nearly 150 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of GNC (NYSE: GNC - News) soared 8.7% after the health products retailer forecast a first-quarter earnings beat and said same-store sales rose by a percentage in the mid-teens in January and February. The company previously forecast first-quarter same-store sales growth of 8%-9% and a profit of 49 cents a share, the same number Wall Street had been expecting. GNC said it would top that number without giving more specific guidance. Twelve pros counted GNC among their top holdings at the end of Q1 and nearly 20 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of Great Wolf Resorts (Nasdaq: WOLF - News) jumped 27.0% after Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO - News) agreed to buy the company for $703 million, including the assumption of debt. The $5 per share offer values Great Wolf at a 19% premium to where it closed on Monday.
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