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Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains on manufacturing data

Overnight Markets: Wall Street gains on manufacturing data

Wall Street gained on Tuesday, with consumer and technology shares pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to record, after positive data on factory activity showed economic growth was gaining traction following a harsh winter.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 75 points, or 0.46%, at 16,533. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 13 points, or 0.70%, at 1,886. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 69 points, or 1.64%, at 4,268.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity gained to 53.7 in March, its second straight monthly acceleration. However, the report was below the median forecast of 54.0.

The ISM report was the latest to point to improving economic conditions, giving credence to the theory that soft data earlier this year was due to weather and not weakening fundamentals.

Financial data firm Markit said its US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index slipped to 55.5 in March, unchanged from a preliminary reading, but the rate of growth and the pace of hiring remained strong.

Construction spending edged up 0.1% in February, curbed by a drop in private residential projects.

Consumer and technology shares gained the most.

Google Inc (GOOG.O) added 1.8% and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) rose 1%. Shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) surged on heavy volume, up 3.9% as the biggest advancer on the Dow.

Ford Motor Co (F.N) surged 4.6%. US auto sales increased more than expected in March, following two months when demand was hampered by weather. General Motors Co (GM.N) fell 0.2%, although its March sales also topped forecasts.

Intuitive Surgical Inc (ISRG.O) jumped 12.7% as the best performer on the S&P 500. The US Food and Drug Administration gave marketing clearance for the company's da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

Medicines Co (MDCO.O) plunged 15.5% after a US District Court ruled a generic version of its blood thinner made by Hospira Inc (HSP.N) did not infringe two of Medicine Co's patents. Hospira shares gained 2.4%.

In Asia, shares gained on Wednesday after the yen retreated before reports that may bolster the view that the US economic recovery is gaining pace.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.5% by 11:08 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped 1.5% in its fifth advance in six days as the yen slipped to 103.86, the weakest since 23 January.

The Kospi index in Seoul climbed 0.3% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.2%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.14%.

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