S&P nears record on home surge

Associated Press file photo by RICHARD DREW -- Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Positive reports on home prices and manufacturing of long-lasting goods lifted market indexes. Show caption
Associated Press file photo by RICHARD DREW -- Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Positive reports on home prices and manufacturing of long-lasting goods lifted market indexes.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed within a short reach of its all-time high on Tuesday. Rising home prices and orders for manufactured goods drove stocks up from the opening bell.

The S&P 500 index rose 12.08 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 1,563.77. That’s less than two points from the peak it reached on Oct. 9, 2007, before a recession and ensuing financial crisis battered markets.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 111.90 points, also 0.8 percent, to 14,559.65.

“Unless something major comes along to derail this rally, it just seems like the market is going to keep climbing higher,” said Marty LeClerc, the managing partner of Barrack Yard Advisors, an investment firm in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The stock market’s gains were widely shared. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 rose, with health care and energy companies leading the way.

Smaller companies, which have been beating the market all year, didn’t do as well Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite rose 17.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,252.48, and the Russell 2000 rose 3.97 points, or 0.4 percent, to 949.82. That’s roughly half of the S&P 500’s gain.

Big company stocks and small company stocks often part ways, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. Big corporations generally have stronger ties to Europe, and their stocks wavered over the past week as traders kept an eye on negotiations to rescue Cyprus.

By contrast, smaller companies are less exposed to the rest of the world. “That’s part of the reason small-caps have outpaced the market this year,” Ablin said.

The S&P 500, used by investors as a proxy for the overall market, is up 9.7 percent so far this year. The Russell 2000 has fared better, rising 11.8 percent.

European markets rose modestly as investors gained confidence in the new bailout plan arranged for Cyprus and its banking system. The island country decided to keep its banks closed for another two days in an attempt to ward off panicked withdrawals.

In other news:

NETFLIX: It surged 5 percent, leading the S&P 500, after an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities said the stock likely will climb as the company adds subscribers. Netflix’s database of its members’ viewing habits should give it an edge in creating new shows and draw more people to sign up for the video-streaming service, the analyst said. Netflix rose $9.82 to $190.61.

SONIC: The drive-in restaurant chain jumped 10 percent after reporting that its quarterly earnings more than doubled. Sales were flat but Sonic said it expects them to improve in the year ahead. Its stock rose $1.14 to $12.87.

SUPERVALU: It rose after announcing plans to lay off more than 1,000 people, roughly 3 percent of its workforce. The supermarket operator said its recent sale of five grocery chains means it needs fewer workers. Supervalu’s stock gained 7 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $5.12.

CHILDREN’S PLACE: It sank 3 percent after the company reported weaker quarterly earnings. The retailer also said bad weather would crimp its sales. The company’s stock lost $1.48 to $44.51.

BERTELSMANN: Booming sales of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” erotic trilogy helped publisher Random House post a record year. Earnings at German parent company Bertelsmann edged up to 619 million euros ($796 million) for 2012.