Historically, April has been the best month of the year for the Dow Industrials, and it got off to a good start. Stocks posted solid gains Tuesday, lifting the S&P 500 to a record high. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 75 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 13 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) jumped 69 points.
The market's gains were led by some of the biggest name Nasdaq stocks.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) gained nearly 4 percent, while Oracle (ORCL) and Microsoft (MSFT) both added more than 1 percent. Microsoft is at its highest level in about 14 years. Other widely traded Nasdaq stocks also gained. Tesla (TSLA) rose 4 percent, Facebook (FB) gained 4 percent, Netflix (NFLX) rose 3½ percent and Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) both gained 2 percent.
Yahoo also gained 1½ percent. It's in talks to buy News Distribution Network, the fourth largest online video service.
The other big story involved the automakers. General Motors (GM) edged lower on more bad news: the recall of another 1.3 million vehicles for safety issues, and the grilling CEO Mary Barra received on Capitol Hill. GM shares have taken a hit since the recalls began earlier this year. Still, the stock is up 23 percent from a year ago. Many analysts say the damage to GM stock price is likely to be temporary.
Meanwhile, Ford (F) jumped 4½ percent after reporting better-than-expected sales for last month.
Airlines had another stellar day. United (UAL) jumped 5 percent, while American (AAL) and Delta (DAL) both gained more than 3 percent.
Biotechs continued their bounce back. Pharmacyclics (PCYC) rose 7 percent and Celgene (CELG) gained 5 percent.
And casino operators rose on news of strong gaming numbers from Macau. Las Vegas Sand (LVS), Wynn (WYNN) and MGM (MGM) all gained about 2 percent.
Elsewhere, Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) jumped 12 percent after winning FDA approval for a new surgical system.
Finally, we have to throw in one loser for you. The Medicines Company (MDCO) fell 15 percent after a federal judge ruled against the company's challenge to patents held by a competitor.
What to Watch Wednesday:
Monsanto (MON) reports quarterly financial results before U.S. markets open.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reports weekly mortgage applications at 7 a.m. Eastern time.
ADP (ADP) releases its survey of private-sector hiring at 8:15 a.m.
The Commerce Department releases factory orders for February at 10 a.m.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.