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Strong Start to Second Half of Year for Stocks

Kevin O'Shaughnessy

U.S. Market
Stocks kicked off the third quarter on a positive note, despite mixed data and low volume.

The Institute for Supply Management said its purchasing managers' index barely budged, coming in at 55.3 for June compared with 55.4 for May and lower than the expected index of 55.9. The subindexes were mixed. Even though it came in below expectations, the index's above-50 reading is indicative of expanding activity.

Separately, the final Markit U.S. PMI for the month was 57.3 versus its initial June reading of 57.5. That said, it was still the best reading in more than four years.

Meanwhile, CoreLogic (CLGX) said U.S. home prices increased 1.4% in May, with 10 states hitting all-time highs. However, the growth of annual home prices decreased compared with the previous quarter, signaling that the housing recovery still has room to improve.

At midday, the Dow had gained 0.8%, and the S&P 500 was 0.7% higher. The Nasdaq was up 1.1%.

Stocks on the Move
Major auto manufacturers were posting June monthly sales today. General Motors (GM) said U.S. sales increased by 1% for the month despite multiple vehicle recalls at the firm. Shares were up 2.7% at midday. Meanwhile, Ford (F) shares were down 0.5% at midday after the automaker saw its June sales fall 6%.

Foreign Markets
Stocks in Asia were mostly higher, with the Shanghai Composite and the Nikkei 225 rising 0.1% and 1.1%. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for a holiday.

Stocks gained in Europe, as well, with the DAX rising 0.7 and the Paris CAC and the FTSE 100 each increasing 0.9%.