Gains were broad, with nine of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes
higher for the day. An S&P technology sector index <.SPLRCT>, up 1.4
percent, led the advance, buoyed by a rally in Microsoft Corp <MSFT.O>.
Microsoft shares jumped 4 percent to $39.55, the biggest daily
advance for the software company's stock since November. Tuesday's
move took the stock near $40 for the first time since July 2000.
Late Monday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the
company may unveil an iPad version of the company's Office software
suite on March 27.
In an address to the Russian parliament, Putin said Russia didn't
want Ukraine to be divided further, and that he did not want to
seize more of the country after approving plans to make Crimea part
of Russia following a disputed referendum.
The two-day advance of 1.7 percent marked the S&P 500's best
back-to-back performance since early February. However, not all
market participants were convinced that the relief over Ukraine
would keep lifting equities.
"This is the triumph of hope over experience," said Brad McMillan,
chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial in Waltham,
Massachusetts. "I would say investors should be very cautious. This
doesn't seem to be a market that is trading on longer-term
expectations or possibilities."
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 88.97 points or 0.55
percent, to end at 16,336.19. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 13.42 points
or 0.72 percent, to finish at 1,872.25. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC>
added 53.364 points or 1.25 percent, to close at 4,333.313.
After the closing bell, Oracle Corp <ORCL.N> shares slid 4.9 percent
to $36.95 after the company said new software sales and
Internet-based software subscriptions in its fiscal third quarter
rose 4 percent from a year earlier.
With the day's gain, the S&P 500 is just 0.3 percent away from an
all-time closing high hit earlier this month.
Investors were looking ahead to the conclusion of a two-day meeting
of the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee, which began
as scheduled at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The central bank is not expected
to deviate from previously announced policy plans, but because the
Fed's stimulus has kept a floor under equity prices, market
participants will be attuned to any hint of a change.
[to top of second column]
In the latest economic data, the U.S. Consumer Price Index rose 0.1
percent in February, as expected, while housing starts slipped from
the previous month.
In company news, Hertz Global Holdings Inc <HTZ.N> said it would
spin off its equipment rental business for $2.5 billion and use part
of the proceeds to fund a stock-buyback program. Hertz Global's
shares slipped 0.5 percent to close at $27.08.
The stock of Nasdaq OMX Group Inc <NDAQ.O> lost 3.1 percent, its
biggest drop since August 22, to close at $38.50. New York's
attorney general urged U.S. stock exchanges and other venues to
limit services that he said provided unfair advantages to
high-frequency traders and undermined confidence in the markets.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal said Chinese e-commerce company
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <IPO-ALIB.N> is leaning toward listing
shares on IntercontinentalExchange Group's <ICE.N> New York Stock
GameStop Corp <GME.N> shares fell 3.4 percent to $38.39 and ranked
as the S&P 500's worst performer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N>
said it would allow shoppers to trade in used video games for
anything from groceries to gadgets.
Volume was light for a second straight day, with about 5.33 billion
shares traded on U.S. exchanges, well below the 6.77 billion average
so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Volume on Monday totaled about 5.74 billion shares.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,346 to
700, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by 1,986 to 620.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jan Paschal)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.