STOCKS HIT RECORD HIGH AND AUTO SALES SMASH EXPECTATIONS: Here's What You Need To Know

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santiago chile stock exchange traders

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Chilean traders gesture at the Santiago Stock Exchange.

It was another strong showing in the stock market.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,532.6 (+74.9, +0.4%)
  • S&P 500: 1,885.5 (+13.1, +0.7%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,268.0, (+69.0, +1.6%)

And now the top stories:

  • The big story today was arguably monthly auto sales, which rebounded nicely after the harsh winter kept some buyers at home. Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota were among the many big auto makers that said March sales beat analyst expectations. According to Wards Auto, the pace of sales jumped to an annual rate of 16.4 million units, which was much stronger than the 15.8 million forecasted. "An anticipated March upturn significantly outpaced expectations, as multiple automakers reported best-in-years deliveries," said Wards' John Sousanis. "All automakers reported year-over-year gains in daily sales, with a majority reporting double-digit improvements."
  • The S&P 500 set an intraday record high of 1,885.84 before pulling back a bit.
  • Countries around the world released their March manufacturing PMI reports overnight. And the overall message was decelerating growth as JP Morgan's Global Manufacturing PMI slipped to 52.4 in March from 53.2 in February. "The March PMI confirms the anticipated downshift in the global manufacturing sector, as the headline index resumes its slowing trend following the weather-related distortions from the US and Japan surveys in recent months," said JP Morgan's David Hensley. "Although growth is cooling from the highs reached at the end of last year, the picture remains one of continued expansion, suggesting manufacturing will remain a contributor to both global economic growth and job creation."
  • The closely watched China manufacturing PMI reports were mixed. The official PMI climbed to 50.3 while the unofficial HSBC PMI slipped to 48.0. "This implies that 1Q GDP growth is likely to have fallen below the annual growth target of 7.5%," said HSBC's Hongbin Qu. "We expect Beijing to fine5-5tune policy sooner rather than later to stabilise growth."
  • Markit's U.S. manufacturing PMI index missed expectations and fell to 55.5 in March from February's 57.1 reading. The ISM's manufacturing index climbed to 53.7 in March but fell a bit short of expecations for a 54.0 level. Still, any reading above 50 signals growth in these reports. "Overall, this latest ISM survey suggests that the pace of economic growth is picking up gradually as we head into spring," said Capital Economics' Amna Asaf.
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