NEW YORK – A jump in U.S. auto sales and other good news on the economy helped drive the stock market higher Wednesday.
General Motors and other carmakers surged after posting strong sales in August, giving the industry its best month in six years.
“Car sales were really impressive,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York. They’re important for what they suggest about the larger economy: solid consumer spending and increased manufacturing. “It means the economy is holding up,” Cardillo said.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 13.31 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,653.08.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 96.91 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 14,930.87 and the Nasdaq composite rose 36.43 points, or 1 percent, to 3,649.04.
Jim Russell, a senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati, said recent economic reports have drawn a brighter picture of the global economy, even as concerns over a U.S. strike on Syria have claimed much of the public’s attention.
A trade group said Tuesday that U.S. factories increased production last month at the fastest pace since June 2011, propelled by a sharp rise in new orders. Separate reports out Monday showed stronger manufacturing in Europe and China.
“All of these add up to better economic growth on a global scale,” Russell said.
On Wednesday, General Motors said its sales rose 15 percent last month, while Chrysler and Ford each reported 12 percent gains. Toyota posted the biggest increase as sales rose nearly 23 percent since August of last year.
GM climbed $1.71, or 5 percent, to $35.85, one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 index. Ford rose 57 cents, or 3 percent, to $16.91.
Investors were also looking ahead to Friday, when the August jobs report will be released.
Friday’s jobs report is the last major piece of economic data the Federal Reserve will have to work with before the central bank decides whether to pull back on its bond-buying program.