U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday as European markets re-opened in positive fashion as a measure of eurozone manufacturing activity came in better than expected. Stocks gapped up at the open, held steady most of the day but began selling off sharply in the last hour, but a flurry of buying in the last 5 minutes preserved gains. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ both addd 0.5%; however the small cap oriented Russell 2000 was down 0.5%. Healthcare stocks continued to be the star of the market as Medicare Advantage rates for 2014 were announced to be increased by 3.3% in 2014. Initially they were going to be reduced by 2% but heavy lobbying by the healthcare industry and members of Congress forced a reversal. Typical corporate welfare.
- The Census Bureau reported that factory orders jumped 3% in February. That was slightly better than expected. Orders excluding transportation equipment increased just 0.3%.
Oil gained 0.1% to $97.19, gold fell 1.6% to $1575.90, and silver dropped 2.5% to $27.25.
Germany's DAX rose 1.9% and France's CAC-40 rallied 2%. The FTSE 100 added 1.2%.
- The final Markit purchasing managers' index for the manufacturing sector dropped to a three-month low of 46.8 from 47.9 in February, but was higher than an initial estimate of 46.6.
- Unemployment in the euro zone stayed at an euro-era high of 12% in February, with Greece and Spain recording the highest levels.
The Nikkei Stock Average shed another 1.1% Tuesday to a nearly one-month low, as yen rallied during Asian market hours. The Shanghia Composite dropped 0.3%.