Stocks Rose Sharply, Dow Hit Highest Level

U.S. stocks rose sharply on Tuesday, lifting the Dow Jones Industrials Average above its all-time intraday and closing highs, ahead of a report on the U.S. services sector. The Dow industrials  were up 107.94 points, or 0.76%, at 14,235.76. The S&P 500 index  rose 11.45 points, or 0.75%, to 1,536.65. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 29.26 points, or 0.92%, to 3,211.29.

U.S. service-sector companies grew at a slightly faster pace in February and expanded for the 39th straight month, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The ISM on Tuesday said its survey of purchasing managers – the executives who buy supplies for their companies – rose to 56% last month from 55.2% in January.

U.S. home prices advanced by 0.7% in January to stretch the year-on-year advance to 9.7% — the largest year- on-year gain since April 2006, according to CoreLogic.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Tuesday cut its outlook on gold prices for this year and next, citing improving economic conditions and a rise in U.S. nominal rates. The bank reduced its 2013 average price forecast for gold by 6.9% to $1,680 a troy ounce and its 2014 forecast by 9.8% to $1,838/oz.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) said Tuesday it raised its quarterly cash dividend by 40% to 35 cents a share from 25 cents a share, effective for dividends payable after March 27.

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