NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose in early trading Wednesday as investors’ focus returned to the improving health of the domestic economy.
A new Commerce Department report showed exports jumped in March to their highest levels since 2008. That bodes well for the manufacturing sector, which has shown consistent improvement in recent months.
Investors had turned their attention for more than a week to whether Greek debt problems would spread across Europe, upending a global economic recovery and possibly destroying the euro. A new report showed exports jumped in March to their highest levels since 2008.
European markets rose as volatility diminishes globally. Stocks rallied sharply Monday after European leaders agreed to a nearly $1 trillion bailout to help contain the debt problems that spooked markets last week.
While stocks have stabilized, currency markets are still in flux. The euro edged higher against the dollar Wednesday. But it is still hovering near a 14-month low.
Uncertainty over the long-term health of the euro has helped boost gold to a new record. Investors worry the euro, which is used by 16 countries, could still lose value as debt-burdened countries cut spending to reduce high debt. Investors have turned to gold as an alternative to currencies.
Gold jumped $20.20 to $1,240.50 an ounce. Earlier in the day it climbed as high as $1,245.40 an ounce.
In early trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 46.93, or 0.4 percent, to 10,795.19. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 5.65, or 0.5 percent, to 1,161.44, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 15.55, or 0.7 percent, to 2,390.86.
The Dow fell about 37 points Tuesday, though broader indexes were mixed. Investors were upbeat for much of the day after the Commerce Department said March wholesale sales jumped more than twice than forecast. The jump in sales, coupled with a modest rise in inventories, shows demand and consumer spending are likely to rise in the coming months.
Stocks had been climbing nearly nonstop since February before last week’s tumult on signs of an improving domestic economy.
The Commerce Department said Wednesay that the nation’s trade deficit rose to a 15-month high in March as higher oil prices pushed import costs higher. The report also showed exports rose 3.2 percent to their highest level since October 2008, a sign the economy continues to get stronger.
Investors will get several economic reports later this week that should provide more insight into the health of the economy. Reports due out later this week are expected to show initial jobless claims dipped last week, while retail sales, industrial production and consumer sentiment are all rising.
In corporate news, Walt Disney Co. reported a better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter profit. However, the company’s results painted a mixed picture about the strength of the consumer. Earnings got a big boost from movie box office sales, but theme park attendance was flat.
Shares of the Dow component dipped 27 cents to $35.49.
Morgan Stanley shares fell after The Wall Street Journal reported said the investment bank is facing an investigation into its dealings in mortgage securities. Its shares fell $1.42, or 5 percent, to $26.96.