U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 with the S&P 500 posting its highest close in more than four months, as investors parsed economic data that included stronger-than-expected durable goods orders and further signs that inflation remains subdued. Shares of Boeing ended a seven-day losing streak despite continued concerns about the safety of its cutting edge 737 Max 8 continued unabated following the second deadly crash involving the model in Ethiopia over the weekend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 148.23 points, or 0.6%, to 25,702.89. The S&P 500 index added 19.40 points, or 0.7%, to end at 2,810.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 52.37 points, or 0.7%, at 7,643.41.
All 11 S&P 500 sectors finished higher with gains ranging from utilities to 1.1% health care.
Boeing shares rose 0.5%. President Donald Trump told reporters that U.S. regulators will ground 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft in line with similar decisions in other countries. Boeing shares are down more than 14% so far this month.
On the economic front, U.S. durable goods orders came in surprisingly strong, following previous reports showing a sharp slowdown in business investment. The Commerce Department report also showed core capital orders, a key measure of business investment, rising 0.8% in January after falling sharply the two months previous. The cost of wholesale goods rose 0.1% in February, below the 0.2% increase expected by market. The 12-month increase in producer prices fell from 2.5% to 2.3%, well below last summer's peak of 3% growth.
The Commerce Dept said that the U.S. construction spending increased 1.3% in January, the largest increase since April, after a 0.8% decrease in December. A notable move lower in the U.S. Dollar Index was another area of support for the broader market. The British pound climbed even higher against the dollar after the UK Parliament voted to reject a no-deal Brexit.
Crude Oil futures rallied on Wednesday, 13 March 2019 to settle at their highest level since November as weekly data revealed a surprise decline in U.S. crude stockpiles and a bigger-than-expected drop in gasoline inventories.
April West Texas Intermediate crude rose $1.39, or 2.4%, to end at $58.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, near the session's high of $58.44. Prices front-month contract haven't traded or settled at levels this high since mid-November. May Brent crude gained 88 cents, or 1.3%, to $67.55 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the highest finish for the international benchmark in about four months.
The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude supplies fell by 3.9 million barrels for the week ended 8 March 2019. That ran counter to expectations for a climb of 3.3 million barrels. The EIA also reported that total domestic crude production inched down from record territory, down 100,000 barrels to 12 million barrels a day. Supplies of gasoline dropped by 4.6 million barrels, while distillates edged up by 400,000 barrels last week. Market had shown expectations for supply declines of 3.5 million barrels for gasoline and 2.5 million barrels for distillates.
The U.S. Treasury market was also quiet on Wednesday. The 2-yr yield and the 10-yr yield finished unchanged at 2.44% and 2.61%, respectively.
Looking ahead, investors will receive New Home Sales for January, Import and Export Prices for February, and the weekly Initial and Continuing Claims report on Thursday