S&P 500 Hits New All-Time High

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The S&P 500 recorded its highest close of all time today, surpassing the high set October 9, 2007. The average rose 0.41% for the day and the Dow rose by 0.36%. The opening this morning was quiet and the market fell into negative territory after the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index missed expectations. The reading for March fell to 52.4 from a February level of 56.8. The consensus estimate was 56.5.

Defensive-minded issues led the market again today. With a slow growth economy and the issues in Europe, investors have continued to plow into the safer areas of the market. Stocks with steady growth rates and healthy dividends remain in favor. Health care, utilities, and staples were the market leaders on this record setting day. Healthcare was the best performing sector of the S&P 500 for the month and has risen 15.2% year to date.

Investors searching for higher rates offered from Treasuries and banks continue to buy utility stocks. Utilities rose 1.3% on the day with many names in the sector recording new 52-week or all-time highs. High yielding telecom stocks were also higher to close out the last day of trading for the quarter.

After lagging due to concerns over slowing growth in China, industrial stocks moved higher today. MMM was 1% and Jacobs Engineering led the engineering and construction space with a gain of 1.3%.

Transports rose by 1% today. News regarding shipments of oil over the rail system continues to be strong. Shipments from the Bakken shale areas are far greater than forecasts. Railroads continue to work higher. Bellwether Union Pacific was higher by 1.1% on the day.

Major bank stocks underperformed again today. The issues in Cyprus put U.S. financials under pressure. There is a fear that the Cypriot situation will spread to other European banking systems. 

Commodities were mostly lower with precious metals, copper, grains, crude, and natural gas all trading lower. Corn was off significantly as farmers planted far more than expected.

Source: PFS Group

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