Chicago PMI and Consumer Sentiment Trigger Stock Market Rally to All-Time High

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Friday’s economic reports should not have made much of a dent, nor should they have created much of a bump in the stock market. Gross domestic product (GDP) was a revision for the fourth quarter. Now we have Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and also a revised consumer sentiment reading. That being said, sometimes the market manages to run on small economic bumps.

Friday’s markets had been in limbo and were looking for direction, and the Chicago PMI acted as an unusual and unexpected catalyst for the stock market.

January’s PMI reading from Chicago was 59.6, well above the breakeven reading of 50 that economists use as the benchmark — above 50 is growth, under 50 is contraction. Bloomberg was calling for a consensus reading of 81.5. New orders were described as rising slightly and employment contracted slightly.

Then the Reuters/University of Michigan released its revised consumer sentiment reading for February. This report came in at 81.6, higher than the preliminary reading of 81.2 and slightly higher than the Bloomberg consensus reading of 81.5.

It seems that stocks want to rally on good economic news again. A few months ago, the hope was that only marginally good news would delay the bond tapering and keep quantitative easing at bay. Now it seems that the market will treat good economic reports as news that allows the Fed to keep tapering its bond buying without putting a dent in the base of the recovery.

The S&P 500 is up more than eight points and hit yet another all-time high at 1,862.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 75 points at 16,348 — still 240 points or so shy of its all-time high.

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