Stocks Surge on High Consumer Confidence


After the long holiday weekend, market participants were given some great news this morning: Consumer confidence has hit a five-year high. Industry group The Conference Board claims that consumer attitudes jumped to 76.2 from a revised 69 in April. Most estimates had pinned the number at 71, so this was quite the surprise.

As of 11:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 159 points, or 1.04%. The S&P 500 has risen 19.62 points, or 1.19%, while the Nasdaq has gained 44 points, or 1.28%. Investors seem to have all but forgotten about the possible Fed slowdown, which everyone was so fearful of last week, and at this time all but one of the Dow's 30 components are moving higher.

Besides the consumer confidence number, a positive housing report also reached investors today, and is likely the reason shares of Home Depot rose 1.72%. The better-than-expected home price report showed that in March prices once again rose, and year-over-year gains have now risen 11%. With home prices continuing to climb, Home Depot should continue to see increased business levels, which will likely be followed by higher profits.

Big pharmaceutical company Merck received a boost from an analyst at Jefferies today. The firm increased Merck's rating from a hold to a buy. The analyst feels Merck is among the best restructuring plays in the drug business, and that the company will likely spin off units as its core pharmaceutical business underperforms. Merck does have an animal division as well as a consumer health unit, which could both be peeled away. Shares of Merck are up 2.12% this morning.

Light crude is higher by 1.2% this morning and now trading in the $95 range, which is one reason shares of both ExxonMobil and Chevron are moving higher today. Exxon is up 1.29% while Chevron has risen 1.1%. Chevron also announced that it would be extending a $2 billion loan to a joint venture it has with a Venezuelan state-run oil company. Chevron holds 40% of the venture and the loan will be used to increase production.

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Fool contributor Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron and Home Depot. Check back Monday through Friday as Matt explains what caused the Dow's winners and losers of the day, and every Saturday for a weekly recap. Follow Matt on Twitter: @mthalman5513. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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