Summary: Dow, S&P 500 start second-half of the year with lifetime highs fueled by U.S. and China factory data; Netflix surges on Goldman buy rating; GM defies fears as industrywide sales top forecasts. Conway G. Gittens reports.
The second half of the trading year starts with the Dow flirting with 17,000. It didn't quite make it, but blue chips still closed at a record high, the S&P 500 also set a new milestone, while the Nasdaq surged more than one percent. Gains were spread across all sectors of the economy. Among the standouts were International Business Machines; the tech giant, which has suffered from slower sales in China, seeing a bounce in its stock. Actually, at one point it was the best day for the stock in more than three months. Visa was the second best Dow performer after IBM. Shares rallied roughly 1.7 percent. Outside of the Dow, Netflix getting a boost from Goldman Sachs and a "buy" rating. The analyst expects international expansion, along with a push into kids programming, to add to business for the streaming video service provider. Shares of Netflix jumping more than seven percent. Auto sales rolling in better than expected in June. Even General Motors saw a sales gain. Analysts were predicting a six percent drop due to recall concerns. David Whitson of Morningstar says consumers just aren't caught up in the recall whirlwind. SOUNDBITE: DAVID WHITSON, SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Not all of it's noise but a lot of it is. It tends to get overdone in the media and what gets ignored is that GM has outstanding product right now, especially with the June results today you saw some extremely healthy contributions from their brand new generation of SUVs in particular the Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon - they are all doing quite well." Shares of GM and Chrysler parent Fiat moved higher, but Ford was very little changed. Positive signs continue from the factory floor. Manufacturing activity rose in June, according to the Institute for Supply Management. And in major trading partner China, manufacturing expanded for the first time in six months. In Europe, investors of BNP Paribas were relieved the French bank finally agreed to pay a penalty for helping Iran and others evade U.S. sanctions. Shares of BNP jumped 3.6 percent in European trade. As for equity markets: stocks in Germany, France and the U.K. - each up less than a full percent.