Stocks continued to inch toward all-time highs.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 14,089, +35.7 pts, +0.2 percent
S&P 500: 1,518, +3.5 pts, +0.2 percent
NASDAQ: 3,169, +9.5 pts, +0.3 percent
And now the top stories:
- Once again, the markets climbed. And once again, the major indices are not far from their all-time highs. The Dow closed at its all-time high of 14,164 on October 9, 2007, the same day the S&P closed at its all-time high of 1,565.
- Overnight, we got the February manufacturing PMI reports from the major economies around the world. And the story is manufacturing continues to grow globally, but the pace of growth has decelerated. China is slowing, but economists warn some of this is due to the impact of the Chinese New Year Holiday. Most of Europe continues to contract. However, Germany has managed to return to growth.
- In the U.S., the manufacturing picture was a bit more mixed. The manufacturing PMI unexpectedly fell to 54.3. Meanwhile, the ISM manufacturing index unexpectedly jumped to 54.2. Ultimately, both numbers were significantly above 50, which is the minimum number that signals growth.
- The message from the consumer was surprisingly optimistic. Personal income fell by 3.6 percent, which was much sharper than the 2.4 percent decline expected. Yet, personal spending climbed by 0.2 percent, which was right in line with expectations. So, as the payroll tax cut takes a bite out of America's paychecks, consumers are just saving less and going shopping. This was the message communicated in the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence report, which unexpectedly improved in the second half of the month.
- Meanwhile, Washington never came to a deal on the sequester — the $85 billion worth of Federal budget cuts that will begin to ripple across the country today.
- Don't Miss: Wall Street's Brightest Minds Reveal The Charts That Worry Them Most >
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