New York Report: Facebook and Tesla prompt rise in shares

US STOCKS climbed yesterday after a data reading on manufacturing activity hit its highest in nearly four years, while news about Facebook and Tesla drove their shares to record highs during trading.

US factory activity accelerated at its fastest pace in nearly four years in February, according to Markit’s preliminary US manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, a bullish economic indicator following a string of weaker-than-expected reports.

New claims for unemployment insurance fell in the latest week, boding well for the job market, but the Philadelphia Fed’s gauge of manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted in February.

The stock market has selectively shrugged off tepid data, pinning recent weakness on the impact of extremely cold weather and massive snow rather than worsening fundamentals.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92.67 points or 0.58 per cent, to end at 16,133.23. The S&P 500 gained 11.03 points or 0.6 per cent, to finish at 1,839.78. The Nasdaq Composite added 29.591 points or 0.7 per cent, to close at 4,267.545.

Social networking giant Facebook said late on Wednesday that it would buy mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for $16bn in cash and stock, plus $3bn worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp’s founders. Facebook shares initially fell on the news, but closed up 2.3 per cent at $69.63 after earlier hitting a record high of $70.11.

Tesla shares surged 8.4 per cent to $209.97 after hitting an intraday record of $215.21.