Wall St. advances, with Nasdaq hitting 5,000, after data

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks advanced on Monday, with the Nasdaq nudging above the 5,000 mark for the first time in 15 years, as a round of mixed data pointed to a slowly accelerating economy.

The Nasdaq composite index <.IXIC> oscillated around the milestone after hitting it for the first time since March 27, 2000, at the height of the dot.com bubble.

Fundamentals are good enough at technology companies, the biggest group on Nasdaq, that the index should be able to stay above 5000, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

“It will eventually sustain that. There may be technical orders out there that profit from selling (when it hit 5000),” he said.

U.S. consumer spending fell for a second month in January, with lower gasoline prices dampening inflation pressure while personal income fell just short of expectations, showing a rise of 0.3 percent.

Separate gauges of manufacturing were conflicting, as financial data firm Markit’s final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a four-month high while a reading from the Institute for Supply Management fell to its lowest in 13 months.

Construction spending also softened, falling at a 1.1 percent annual rate, below expectations calling for a 0.3 percent increase in January.

At 1:08 p.m. EST (1808 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 104.07 points, or 0.57 percent, to 18,236.77, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 6.27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,110.77 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 23.34 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,986.87.

The utilities sector <.SPLRCU> was down 2.4 percent, the worst-performing group in the S&P 500 Monday as investors looked for safer investments.

U.S. Treasury yields climbed after data showed that personal income rose in January, easing some fears that U.S. economic growth may be slowing.

“What you’re seeing is people trading out of utilities as yields are improving on bonds,” said Jankovskis.

Chip maker NXP Semiconductors NV <NXPI.O> has agreed to buy smaller peer Freescale Semiconductor Ltd <FSL.N> to create a company valued over $ 40 billion. NXP shares jumped 16 percent to $ 98.52, the biggest boost to the Nasdaq, while Freescale advanced 11.1 percent to $ 40.10.

Lumber Liquidators <LL.N> plunged 21.6 percent to $ 40.65 after a television report said the hardwood flooring retailer sold flooring with higher levels of formaldehyde than permitted under California’s health and safety standards.

Boston Scientific Corp <BSX.N> said it will acquire Endo International Plc’s <ENDP.O> American Medical Systems urology portfolio for up to $ 1.65 billion. Boston Scientific rose 0.7 percent to $ 16.98 while Endo gained 2.5 percent to $ 87.76.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,629 to 1,394, for a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,612 issues rose and 1,054 fell for a 1.53-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 49 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 123 new highs and 22 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczek; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)

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