U.S. Stocks Extend Gains on Strong Car Sales

By Riva Gold and Corrie DriebuschFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

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U.S. stocks extended gains Tuesday as upbeat car-sales data and a rise in airline stocks helped lift major indexes to fresh records.

Large auto makers posted solid sales increases in September, a boost to the industry after months of declining results and the latest upbeat data on the U.S. economy.

General Motors shares rose $1.30, or 3.1%, to $43.45 and Ford Motor stock climbed 25 cents, or 2.1%, to 12.34 after both companies reported sharply higher sales of pickup trucks and SUVs, their most profitable products.

Separately, Delta Air Lines updated its third-quarter outlook, including the impact from Hurricane Irma, which resulted in 2,200 flight cancellations. Aside from that, the pricing environment for Delta "appears to be stabilizing, which should be viewed favorably," according to an analyst note from Cowen & Co. Shares rose 3.18, or 6.6%, to 51.25, while competitors American Airlines Group rose 2.78, or 5.8%, to 50.51 and United Continental Holdings added 3.71, or 6.1%, to 64.14.

The gains helped lift broader indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84.07 points, or 0.4%, to 22641.67, its 44th record close of the year. The S&P 500 added 5.46 points, or 0.2%, to 2534.58 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 15.00 points, or 0.2%, to 6531.71 -- fresh highs for both.

Tuesday's rise built on Monday's records, which came as data showed that a gauge of U.S. manufacturing activity reached a 13-year high in September, exceeding expectations. That followed solid readings in China and Japan earlier in the week.

"We have another round of data that shows the U.S. economy and international global economy is doing quite well right now," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co.

"That's being fairly well received by stocks," he added, though he cautioned the market may have gotten slightly ahead of itself in the short term with investor sentiment quite optimistic.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.2% in its ninth straight session of gains, its longest winning streak since July 2015.

The euro stabilized Tuesday after falling Monday, and was recently up 0.1% at $1.1750.

Earlier, Hong Kong led a climb in Asian markets, with the Hang Seng Index jumping 2.2% in its best session of the year. Shares of car maker Geely surged after Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating, while Chinese bank stocks moved higher after the nation's central bank over the weekend reduced the reserves select banks are required to keep with it.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 1%, building on a two-year high as a weaker yen helped shares of exporters who translate revenue overseas.

Markets in mainland China and South Korea were closed for the week.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 03, 2017 16:56 ET (20:56 GMT)