U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index above the highest close since 2008, as investors weighed a second bailout for Greece and after earnings from Home Depot Inc. to Macy’s Inc. (M) beat estimates.
Eight out of 10 industries in the S&P 500 advanced as commodity producers had the biggest gain. Alcoa Inc. (AA) and Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) climbed at least 3.3 percent. Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, and Macy’s, the second-biggest U.S. department-store chain, added more than 1.3 percent. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s biggest retailer, tumbled 3.9 percent as low prices hurt margins.
The S&P 500 added 0.4 percent to 1,366.52 at 12:32 p.m. New York time, rising for a third day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 42.23 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,992.10, briefly rising above 13,000 for the first time since 2008.
“Was there any real surprise in Europe kicking the can down the road?” said Michael Strauss, who helps oversee about $27 billion of assets as the chief investment strategist at Commonfund in Wilton, Connecticut. “No. That’s a non-event. It doesn’t solve the longer-term issue. The market is reacting to good U.S. economic fundamentals. The earnings side has been fine. That’s providing the biggest seeds to the strength in equities.”
The S&P 500 (SPX) added 8.7 percent this year, climbing above its 2011 high, as reported 12-month earnings for its companies rose 9.4 percent to $96.58 a share, the highest level ever. Profit is forecast to increase 6.6 percent to $104.28 a share in 2012 and then expand 13 percent to $117.67 in 2013, according to more than 11,000 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Computer, software and other technology companies have rallied the most since the high in April 2011, gaining 8.4 percent as a group, led by a 52 percent increase in Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and a 45 percent advance in Apple Inc. Consumer companies that benefit from discretionary spending added 6 percent and utilities rose 5.4 percent in the same period.
Earlier today, stocks swung between gains and losses as European finance ministers approved 130 billion euros ($173 billion) in aid for Greece by tapping into European Central Bank profits and coaxing investors into providing more debt relief to shield the region from a default. Greece’s debt may still balloon to 160 percent of gross domestic product in a worst-case scenario, analysis by the International Monetary Fund and European officials indicated.
“We’re in a topping phase,” Barry James, who helps oversee $3 billion as president of James Investment Research in Xenia, Ohio, said in a telephone interview. “Our indicators are getting less positive. The news is out about the Greece bailout. Yet we see a rolling recession throughout Europe. It’s not a buy and hold market in our opinion. We’re on edge.”
A gauge of raw material producers had the biggest gain in the S&P 500 among 10 industries. The S&P GSCI gauge of 24 commodities added 1 percent. Alcoa increased 3.3 percent to $10.49. Newmont Mining increased 3.5 percent to $61.54.
Home Depot (HD) gained 1.3 percent to $47.30. The company attracted customers who spent more as U.S. unemployment sank to a three-year low in January and builders began work on more houses. Warmer weather helped sales at stores open at least a year advance 5.7 percent, the biggest gain since a 7.7 percent increase in the first quarter of 2004. That topped the average estimate for a 3 percent gain by five analysts.
Lowe’s Cos. (LOW), the second-largest U.S. home-improvement retailer, rose 0.7 percent to $27.88.