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Dow finishes above 13,000 for first time since 2008

(Xinhua)

08:09, February 29, 2012

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. stocks ended higher on Tuesday as upbeat consumer data overcame the negative effect of poor housing and durable goods data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008, while the S&P 500 index ending at its highest level in nearly four years.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 23.61 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 13,005.12. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 4. 59 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,372.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 20.60 points, or 0.69 percent, to 2,986.76.

On economic front, the Conference Board said that the U.S. consumer confidence jumped to a one-year high of 70.8 in February, from an upwardly revised 61.5 in January.

However, the U.S. Commerce Department said that durable goods dropped 4 percent in January, logging the biggest decrease in almost three years, as business spending on machinery and equipment declined. Meanwhile, core capital goods tumbled 4.5 percent, marking the biggest drop in a year.

Also, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, which were regarded as the measure of U.S. home prices, showed that the national composite index fell 3.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011 and dipped 4 percent year-on-year.

Both the 10- and 20-City Composite index fell 1.1 percent in December from November, and lost 3.9 percent and 4 percent, respectively, comparing with the same period in previous year.

The latest data showed that U.S. home prices had dipped to new lows since the housing crisis began in mid-2006, suggesting the recovery of the housing market still has a long way to go.

However, the upbeat consumer sentiment offset the negative effect of the disappointing housing and durable goods data and lifted the optimism in markets.

Meanwhile, the ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut Greece's sovereign credit ratings late Monday to "selective default," but the move was widely expected. S&P also pointed out that once the debt swap operation concluded, it will likely to raise Greece's sovereign credit rating to the 'CCC' category.

Also boosting the market, the European Central Bank will launch its second round of long term refinancing operation on Wednesday, in an effort to inject liquidity to European banking system and helped to stabilize European bond markets.

The technology sector led Tuesday's gain as Apple's stock price topped all time high of 535 dollars per share, boosted by the news that the tech giant will reveal iPad 3 next week.

On other markets, oil price plunged nearly 2 percent on demand concerns. Gold gained slightly to close above 1780 dollars an ounce.

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