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Overnight Markets: Dow closes above 13,000 for first time since 2008

by Himanshu Singh on Feb 29, 2012 at 02:12

Overnight Markets: Dow closes above 13,000 for first time since 2008

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008 on Tuesday as better-than-estimated consumer confidence data and a decline in oil prices bolstered optimism in the world’s largest economy.

The Dow Jones gained 24 points, or 0.18%, to close at 13,005. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose five points, or 0.34%, to end at 1,372. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 21 points, or 0.69%, to finish at 2,987.

Consumer confidence in the US surged to a one-year high in February, according to a report from The Conference Board. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity.

The decline in oil prices also relieved concerns about the outlook for consumer spending. Brent crude oil futures fell more than $2 to settle at $121.55 a barrel.

However, a government report showing orders for US durable goods in January had the biggest fall in three years tempered some of the economic optimism. Separate data showed that home prices in 20 US cities fell more than forecast in December.

Technology sector was the best performer. Micron Technology shot up 3.7% after Intel Corp said it will divest its holding in two wafer factories to Micron and buy chips from the company. Intel rose 1.3%. Apple added 1.8% and its market capitalisation approached $500 billion as it is said to unveil a new iPad next month. The Nasdaq was trading at its highest since 2000.

Retailers received a boost after Office Depot surged 18.9% on earnings report. AutoZone advanced 2.9%. Priceline.com surged 7% to the highest level since 1999 as profit beat estimates. Domino’s Pizza soared 16% after announcing a debt refinancing that may result in a special dividend.

On the negative side, energy shares in the S&P 500 lost 0.2% as a group.

In Asia, equities rose on Wednesday in morning session after US and European consumer confidence beat expectations, and as manufacturing in Japan and South Korea gained, boosting optimism global demand will increase.

In Japan, Nikkei Stock Average 225 climbed 1.3% as of 10.39 a.m. in Tokyo. In Australia, ASX All Ordinaries Index rose 0.78%. South Korea’s Kospi Index was up 1.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was trading 0.23% higher, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.79%.

In company news, Nintendo rose 1% in Osaka, Hynix Semiconductor gained 2% and Harvey Norman Holdings slumped 6.5% in Sydney after its first-half earnings fell.

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