Mar 15 - Summary of business headlines: Dow rallies, S&P 500 tops 1,400 amid growing economy; Australians first to buy new iPad; Oil volatile on U.K.-U.S. oil reserve talk. Conway G. Gittens reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Economic data once again provided the lift. U.S. jobless claims dropped back down to a four-year low. Business activity in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions expanded in March, according to two regional Federal Reserve surveys, suggesting the economic recovery is on stronger ground. But inflation did provide a cause for some concern. Producer prices rose at their fastest pace in five months, although price gains were not as big as feared. Australians are the first in the world to get their hands on the new iPad as Friday begins Down Under. Rollouts will bounce from time zone to global time zone. The 4G-ready tablet upgrade is expected to do well, helping shares of Apple touch $600 for the first time on record, before finishing below that peak. Oil prices were volatile after sources said the U.K. and the U.S. have agreed to release oil from the strategic reserve within months. The White House quickly downplayed the Reuters report, saying no such deal has been reached. But Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer sees a clear message coming from a White House worried about high gasoline prices. SOUNDBITE: FADEL GHEIT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, OPPENHEIMER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The President is saying this is the circuit breaker right here. If the oil prices are going to heat up we will pull the trigger and we will bring them down." U.S. crude fought back steep losses to finish near $105, but London Brent sea crude dropped over a dollar to more than $123 a barrel. As for the rest of Wall Street: new multi-year highs across the board, with blue chips rallying for day number seven. European stocks were mostly higher on hopes of a stronger global economy. Conway Gittens, Reuters