NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging news about the U.S. economy pushed stocks higher on Wall Street today.
A gauge of future economic activity rose more than analysts had expected, as did a measure of consumer confidence, adding to evidence that the economy is steadily recovering.
Stocks have surged to record levels this year on optimism about the economy and record corporate earnings. The market is also being supported by ongoing stimulus from the Federal Reserve, which is keeping long-term borrowing costs at historically low levels.
"This slow but relatively steady growth, that keeps inflation in check and keeps interest rates low, is actually a pretty healthy environment for the stock market," said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co. "Right now we are very optimistic."
Northrop Grumman gained $2.73, or 3.5 percent, to $81.75 after the defense contractor said its board approved the repurchase of another $4 billion in stock, and that it plans to buy back a quarter of its outstanding shares by the end of 2015.