Stocks Jump on Strong Factory Data; Dow Industrials Hit New Record

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U.S. stocks rallied Wednesday, as robust profits and a flurry of buyout offers powered the Dow Jones industrials to a record high and the S&P 500 to its highest level in over six years.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 75.74 points, or 0.58 percent, at 13,211.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 9.62 points, or 0.65 percent, at 1,495.92. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 26.31 points, or 1.04 percent, at 2,557.84.

Shares of manufacturing companies that sell their products abroad, such as appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) and lawn mower maker Toro Co. (TTC), posted sharp gains after government data showed bigger-than-expected increases in U.S. factory orders.

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Among the biggest deals of the day was a $10.6 billion offer from the Dolan family to take Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) private. The New York-area cable operator's board agreed to sell to the Dolans the Cablevision shares they do not already own for $36.26 a share.

"What's driving the market is the same thing that's been driving the market for a while — good global growth and the shrinking supply of equities, either from corporate buybacks or from companies going from public to private," said Bill Strazzullo, partner and chief market strategist at Bell Curve Trading in Boston.

Whirlpool shares were up 4.7 percent to $113.14 and Toro shares added nearly 2 percent to end at $51.62 on the NYSE.

The news on Cablevision, one of the fastest-growing U.S. cable companies, follows another major media bid approach — Tuesday's surprise $5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co. Inc. by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Cablevision shares ended 9.9 percent higher at $35.90.

Stronger-than-expected profits were another underpinning of the stock market rally, analysts said.

Shares of agricultural equipment maker Agco Corp. (AG) shot up after it posted a better-than-expected increase in quarterly profit, helped by growth in the Brazilian market.

Agco shares rose 1.7 percent to $42.50. Shares of rival CNH Global NV rose 2.1 percent to $44.40 and Deere & Co. gained 3.7 percent to $112.75.

Media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. (TWX) reported earnings that beat Wall Street's forecast, sending its shares up 1.7 percent to $20.94.

Shares of MasterCard Inc. stock jumped 10 percent to $126.35 after the credit card company's profit beat estimates.

Acquisition deals announced during the session included a plan for Eola Capital to buy St. Joe Co.'s office buildings portfolio as well as for Dutch retailer Ahold to sell U.S. unit Foodservice to a private equity consortium.

U.S.-listed shares of Ahold ended up 7.2 percent to $13.65, while St. Joe shares gained 0.14 percent to $57.13.

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