Closing Bell: Upbeat Economic News Helps Drive Stocks Higher

traders wall street stocks investing economy auto sales federal reserve beige book
Seth Wenig/AP
A jump in U.S. auto sales and other good news on the economy helped drive the stock market higher Wednesday, though investors remained focused on whether there would be a Western-led military attack against Syria following a suspected chemical weapons attack on its civilians.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 96 points, or 0.7 percent, to 14,930, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 13 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,653 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) jumped 36 points, or 1 percent, to 3,649.

Auto stocks rose sharply after reporting strong sales gains in August, leading the industry toward its best month in six years.

General Motors (GM) said its sales rose 15 percent last month, while Chrysler and Ford (F) each reported 12 percent gains. Toyota (TM) posted the biggest increase as sales rose nearly 23 percent since August of last year. Shares of GM advanced 5 percent to $35.85, while Ford rose 3.5 percent to $16.91.

A Federal Reserve survey showed that all 12 of the Fed's regional banking districts reported modest to moderate economic growth, as Americans bought more cars and homes and auto factories added workers.

The survey, known as the beige book, also showed that job growth was steady and that hiring in manufacturing improved modestly, especially at auto and auto-parts factories, but federal spending cuts resulted in production cutbacks at defense plants in parts of the country.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 1.2 percent to $107.23 a barrel, as investors continued to weigh how an anticipated strike on Syria might effect the flow of oil out of the Middle East.

More Stocks in the News:
  • Apple (AAPL) gained 2.1 percent to $498.69 after Cantor Fitzgerald initiated coverage of the company with a "buy" rating.
  • Dollar General (DG) jumped 4.7 percent to $56.39 after the discount store chain reported profits that narrowly beat Wall Street analyst estimates. In contrast to some of its competitors, Dollar General said sales at stores open more than a year climbed.
  • Francesca's Holdings (FRAN), which operates the Francesca's line of retail stores, plunged after reporting results that fell short of Wall Street estimates. The company cut its forecast for full-year earnings, citing poor customer traffic. Its stock plummeted 26 percent to $17.79.
  • Ciena (CIEN) surged almost 14 percent to $23.54. The developer of high-speed networking technology reported adjusted earnings that were far higher than Wall Street analysts expected, a result of higher revenue and lower costs.
  • Rochester Medical (ROCM) leaped 44 percent to $19.91 after C.R. Bard (BCR) agreed to buy the company for $262 million.
  • H&R Block (HRB) reported an adjusted quarterly loss Tuesday that was wider than expected, sending shares down 0.7 percent to $27.70. SAIC (SAI) fell 4.9 percent to $14.41 after its results. The two companies marked the S&P's two biggest percentage decliners.
  • Hain Celestial Group (HAIN) fell 2 percent to $80.21 a day after the company said activist investor Carl Icahn and his entities were cutting their stake in the company by roughly half.
What to Watch Thursday:
  • Selected chain retailers release August sales.
  • Payroll process releases data on August private sector hiring at 8:15 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims, and revised second quarter data on productivity and costs -- both at 8:30 a.m.
  • At 10 a.m., the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for August; the Commerce Department reports July factory orders; and Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.
These major companies are scheduled to report corporate quarterly earnings: -Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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September 05 2013 at 3:43 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The stock market is just one great ponzi scheme. They sell you shares of a company that have no real value and then manipulate the price of it with brokers on the floor. They can cause the DOW to go up and down.....whatever suits their purpose. Tell me what your share is worth in corporate bankruptcy....a stapler? hmmmmm....a chair? Actually nothing; you're buying nothing; it's secured by nothing. You're as dumb as hell.

September 05 2013 at 2:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ivyteainn's comment
Hello Bob

If you can't afford to play at the big boys table, then step away. There is no shame in not playing but there is a great of shame when you whine about it while clutching your mother's apron.

September 05 2013 at 7:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good evening America...Even better news today, America will now begin importing cooked poultry from Beijing!!! Tyson shares will surely soar with this wonderful news. Please rest assured Beijing will not poison American chicken nuggets for now anyway. Soon you buy chicken raised and cooked in Beijing too.....Don't forget to get your honey melamine sauce too.

September 04 2013 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 04 2013 at 10:37 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Robert Young

What was the upbeat news? Unemployment is not expected to exceed 20%?

September 04 2013 at 8:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

What a lier,,,,,,,Obama said today,,,he did not make a commit about ,,,THE RED LINE.......That it was the people said that,,,
I hear a clip of him saying,,,,I DREW A RED LINE.....

September 04 2013 at 7:28 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I am investing,,,,I bought 12 fruit jars today,,,I will give out to my friends....
If you pack paper money in it tight,,,,it will hold a lot.!!!!

Interest on the fruit jar is about same as the banks.!!!!!!

September 04 2013 at 7:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Some more of that good old warm and fuzzy feeling. Well, at least for the time being.

September 04 2013 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The huffington post writes this everytime the market goes up!!!!!!!!!!Please start posting the truth..

September 04 2013 at 5:26 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to joey's comment
Hello Bob

What is your problem Joey ? Is it past your bedtime or didn't you get a nappy ?

September 04 2013 at 7:10 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Oh they post it when it goes down too, but the truth is it has been going up more than down, All a downspike means to me is time to buy

September 04 2013 at 8:03 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply