2 Apr 2009

Wall St rallies on manufacturing, homes data

11:35 am on 2 April 2009

US stocks climbed on Wednesday as factory and home sales data raised hopes the economic downturn is moderating.

Big manufacturers and their suppliers, such as Caterpillar Inc and US Steel Corp, rose sharply after data showed factory activity in March fell at a slower rate than the month before, while pending home sales rose more than expected in February.

The data was enough to counter a report that showed US private-sector job losses accelerated in March to 742,000.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 152.68 points, or 2.01%, to 7,761.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 13.21 points, or 1.66%, to 811.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 23.01 points, or 1.51%, to 1,551.60.

Shares of automaker Ford rose 4.2% to $US2.74 as the company said March sales declined 41%, which was better than expected. The company said the pace of the economic decline may be moderating.

General Motors stock pared losses as executives cited March sales data that pointed to the "first signs of brightening" in the auto industry. GM's stock fell 0.5% to $US1.93, well off its session low at $US1.58.