U.S. Stocks Rally On Good Economic News And End Of The Quarter Window Dressing

U.S. stocks are up as of 1:30 p.m. today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is ahead 0.95% and the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index is up 1.08%.

Two reasons for this, I think, and the second is more important today.

First, we had a raft of positive economic news this morning.  Initial claims for unemployment came in at 215,000 for the week against expectations among economists surveyed by Briefing.com for for 230,000 new claims.

Personal income in February climbed 0.4% from January, matching the consensus. Personal Spending in the month rose 0.2% from January, again matching consensus. (That’s a plus or a minus depending on how you want to read it: It’ a plus if you say, Consumers aren’t spending all their gains in income so they aren’t as stretched; or it’s a minus if you say, Consumers are feeling a need to put a little extra away since they have concerns about tomorrow.)

The PCE, the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index that is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, rose 02.% month over month in February, matching consensus expectations. The core PCE also rose 02.% from January, again matching consensus.

In short nothing here to create new worry about the economy. All of this data, I would remind you, looks backward at February, however, and the real worries from the fall out of the Trump administration’s trade moves, for example, focus on the months of April and later.

Second,  and I think this is, in the short run, much more important for the market’s gains, today marks the end of the first quarter (since financial markets are closed tomorrow.) And that means that portfolio managers can use yesterday’s drop, especially in technology shares to pick up impressive names for their end of the quarter portfolio reports at a decent price. In the technology sector Nvidia (NVDA) is up 4.08%; Apple (AAPL) is ahead 2.27%; Alphabet (GOOG) has gained 3.27%; and Microsoft is higher by 1.70%. Even Facebook (FB) has climbed 2.27%.

I would note that come Monday portfolio managers will no longer have to keep these stocks in their portfolio in order to list them in their report of first quarter holdings.