Confidence up in the US but investors wary

THE Dow and S&P 500 advanced for a second day yesterday as stronger-than-expected consumer confidence data and hopes for further progress on a solution to Europe’s fiscal mess bolstered sentiment.

However, in a sign investors are still nervous about the European debt crisis, defensive sectors such as utilities and consumer staples were among the best performers. The Nasdaq composite index also closed lower.

Helping to lift the mood on Wall Street, the Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since July, handily topping economists’ forecasts.

Financial shares limited the advance, with the S&P financial index down 0.6 per cent. Shares of Bank of America dropped 3.2 per cent to $5.08, its lowest closing level since March 2009. FThe Dow Jones industrial average was up 32.62 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 11,555.63. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.64 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 1,195.19. The Nasdaq composite index was down 11.83 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 2,515.51. In a positive move, Italian bond yields fell from session highs.