A large increase in orders for big-ticket items has helped push stocks higher today. The U.S. Department of Commerce said durable-goods orders rose 5.7% in February to $232.1 billion, higher than the 4.6% economists expected. A 95.3% increase in aircraft orders and a 3.8% rise in auto orders helped drive the reading higher. Without those items, orders actually fell 0.5%.
Durable-goods orders can swing wildly from month to month, but the general trend has been higher, which is a positive for the economy. Investors liked what they saw, pushing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) about 0.7% higher near the end of trading.
It should be no surprise that Boeing (NYSE:BA) is one of the big winners today, rising 1.8%. The company is one of the largest aircraft-manufacturers in the world, and it was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the increase in orders last month.
One of the interesting data points in the durable-goods report was a 4.9% rise in computer orders. This follows a sharp decline in PC sales late last year and has shares of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) moving 2.5% higher today. At this point, any good news about the PC market is good for Intel, because investors have priced in a slow decline for the company.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is up 2.3% on the computer orders news. HP is still one of the biggest PC-makers in the world, and a pickup in sales may be even more important for the flagging company than it is for Intel.