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Photo: Andrew_N / Flickr

Wow! What a huge day for stocks.First the scoreboard:

Dow: 14,075, +175.2 pts, +1.2 per cent
S&P 500: 1,515, +19.0 pts, +1.2 per cent
NASDAQ: 3,162, +32.6 pts, +1.0 per cent

And now the top stories:

  • The Dow closed at a new post-crisis, bull-market high.  The S&P 500 got close. Both indices are near their all-time highs. The Dow closed at its all-time high of 14,164 on October 9, 2007.  The  S&P closed at its all-time high of 1,565 that same day.
  • There were two big catalysts for the market rally today.  First was an Italian bond auction, which ended at around 5:30 AM ET.  In brief, borrowing costs rose since the last auction, but they weren’t as high as expected. This was a relief to those who expected recent political turmoil to cause borrowing costs to surge.  Italian stocks closed up 1.7 per cent.
  • The other big catalyst was the January durable goods report.  Aggregate orders actually fell by 5.2 per cent, which was worse than the 4.8 per cent decline expected.  However, this number tends to be very volatile due to orders for defence goods and aircraft, which both fell dramatically.
  • When you strip all of the noisy items away from the report, you get a line item called nondefense orders excluding aircraft.  This is also known as core capex, and it’s known to be a good barometer of business investment activity.  Well, core capex surged 6.3 per cent.  Economists were looking for 0 per cent growth.  Apparently, all of the uncertainty coming out of Washington didn’t stop America from buying big ticket items.
  • Last fall, economist David Rosenberg argued that core capex is a good recession indicator when you look at the year-over-year change in its three-month moving average.  After falling into recession territory for months, the measure turned positive today.
  • Don’t Miss: THE NEXT STOCK MARKET CRASH: Why Many Pros Think It Has Already Begun >

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