Wall Street pauses, outperformers boosted near quarter end

March 27th, 20125:52 pm @


Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:29pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street paused near four-year highs on Tuesday, while a number of large-cap stocks hit new highs as portfolio managers grabbed top performers as the end of the quarter approached.

With the quarter ending Friday, portfolio managers adjusted holdings by buying some of the best performers to dress up their portfolio. About 80 percent of stocks across all sectors of the SP 500, especially high-end retailers and technology, are above their six-month moving average.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) hit another all-time best of $614.91, boosting its market capitalization to $572 billion. There have been only a handful of instances where a U.S. company sported a higher market cap than Apple.

Also hitting 52-week highs, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) climbed to $44.50 and Home Depot Inc (HD.N) reached $50.34.

Disney later eased, down 0.4 percent at $44.22 at midday, while Home Depot shares were up 0.3 percent at $50.30.

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) was up 2.2 percent at $22.64 after rising to a 52-week high of $22.80 earlier in the session.

Still, the overall market showed signs of fatigue. On Monday, major stock indexes rallied more than 1 percent after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled that supportive monetary policy will remain in place.

“What we are seeing now is just natural buying and strong momentum. Money is moving away from other assets and into equities,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

“Technicians say there will be a pullback in the market but when everyone is looking for a pullback, it rarely happens. This is why money keeps pouring back in.”

The SP 500 has jumped 12.6 percent this year and some investors believe further gains will be more difficult. The nearly 6-month rally, without a major correction, has come partly after accommodative measures by central banks around the world.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 3.71 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,245.34. The Standard Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was up 0.76 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,417.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 7.21 points, or 0.23 percent, at 3,129.78.

In the latest economic report, U.S. consumer confidence dipped in March, while Americans ratcheted up inflation expectations to the highest level in 10 months.

Separately, U.S. single-family home prices were unchanged in January, according to the SP/Case-Shiller index, suggesting a battered housing market continued to crawl along the bottom. Equities barely budged after either report.

Homebuilder Lennar Corp (LEN.N) reported a sharp rise in first-quarter orders and said it saw strong signs of improvement in sales activity. The stock rose 5.2 percent to $27.77.

(The bullets in the story has been corrected, second paragraph to say 80 percent of SP stocks above six-month average)

(Reporting By Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/D34aQ8ztSFM/us-markets-stocks-idUSBRE82L0JD20120327