U.S. Stocks Surge Into March, Nasdaq 100 Rises Most Since August

The Nasdaq 100 Index powered to its best day in six months as U.S. equities roared into March amid signs that the world’s largest economy remains on firm footing and foreign central banks stand poised to do what’s needed to shore up sluggishness abroad.

American factories looked set to emerge from a year-long slump, while monthly gains at major carmakers showed consumers stepping up spending a day after China added to stimulus, alleviating anxieties that had sent U.S. shares to the worst start to a year on record. Banks and technology stocks paced gains Tuesday, as companies hardest hit during the rout continued a three-week rebound.

The S&P 500 climbed 2.4 percent, the most in a month, to 1,978.01 at 4 p.m. in New York, the highest close since Jan. 6 after sliding 0.8 percent on Monday to cap a third straight monthly drop. The gauge has trimmed its 2016 decline to 3.2 percent, down from more than 10 percent. The Nasdaq 100 gained 3.2 percent, the most since Aug. 26.

Equities extended an opening advance after a report showed factory activity in February shrank less than forecast, as gains in new orders and production provided signs that the beleaguered industry could soon stabilize. Another report showed spending on all construction projects, private and public, rose 1.5 percent in January, the most since May.

Source: Bloomberg

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Europe Stocks Drop Second Day as Miners Tumble Most Since August

European stocks declined for a second day as sliding oil prices stoked investor concern about global growth.

Miners led the losses, taking their two-day decline to 9.5 percent, the most since August. BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc fell more than 2.8 percent as oil spent more of the day down after Iran dismissed a proposal by Saudi Arabia and Russia for producers to freeze output. European automakers and banks, the weakest groups this year, were also among the worst performers on Wednesday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 2.3 percent for its biggest two-day decline since Feb. 9. The gauge resumed its losses after posting its biggest weekly rally in a year and reaching a three-week high on Monday.

A measure of stock volatility climbed for a second day, taking its increase to 49 percent for 2016. The year has been particularly brutal for European shares as a slump in lenders added to concerns over global growth and the oil rout. The Stoxx 600 hasn’t posted more than two consecutive days of gains since December.

Commodity producers sank 6.5 percent as a group on Wednesday, after they rebounded as much as 35 percent from this year’s low through Monday. Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc slumped more than 9.5 percent, while BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group lost at least 5.7 percent.

Lenders, the most battered among European industries this year, lost 3 percent. The group slumped to a three-year low this month amid worries over bad loans at Italian firms, the impact of a low-rate environment on profits and Deutsche Bank AG’s creditworthiness. Greek and Italian banks fell the most on Wednesday, and Denmark’s Sydbank A/S tumbled 8.4 percent after reporting profit that missed estimates.

Wirecard AG plunged the most in the Stoxx 600, sinking 22 percent. An anonymous short seller published a report accusing senior management and board members at the German payments processor of money laundering and of facilitating the evasion of U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling. The company denied the allegations and called them “slanderous.” Hugo Boss AG tumbled 8.4 percent for its biggest two-day slump since 1999 as Societe Generale SA cut its rating on the German clothier to sell from hold following yesterday’s profit warning.

Fresenius SE climbed 3.4 percent after Europe’s largest health-care provider forecast that profit and sales will increase this year. Petrofac Ltd., Wolters Kluwer NV and Atos SE were among the region’s best performers, rising more than 3 percent, after reporting earnings. Rexel SA jumped 5.9 percent after Cevian Capital increased its stake in the French company.

Source: Bloomberg

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