NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes turned higher Monday as investors put on the brakes, stopping an early slide to put the Dow index within reach of its record close.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 38.16 points or 0.27 percent to 14,127.82, its second highest close ever and about 37 points shy of the record set in October 2007.
The Dow was led by retailers Walmart Stores, where shares rose 2.12 percent, and Home Depot, where shares gained 1.83 percent. Pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co. shares rose 1.67 percent. Intel, IBM and Pfizer shares all rose more than 1 percent.
By close of trading, the Standard and Poor's 500 added 7 points or 0.46 percent to 1,525.20.
The Nasdaq composite gained 12.29 points or 0.39 percent to 3,182.03.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,688 stocks advanced and 1,341 declined on a volume of 3.3 billion shares traded.
The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 10/32 to yield 1.881 percent.
Against the dollar the euro was higher at $1.3022 from Friday's $1.3014. Against the yen, the dollar was down to 93.50 yen from 93.64 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.4 percent on a gain of 45.91 points, to 11,652.29.
In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 0.52 percent, 32.97 points, to 6,345.63.
Spending cuts don't scare Wall Street
NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Market analysts are saying U.S. corporations will continue to thrive despite federal spending cuts, even as the job market languishes.
The effects of the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that became official March 1 will have "minimal" effect on corporations, Savita Subramanian, the head of U.S. equity and quantitative strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch told The New York Times.
Corporate earnings may go down by 1 percent, Subramanian said, adding, "The market wants more austerity."
Austerity in part means job cuts. The current reduction in spending is expected to erase 700,000 U.S. jobs. In contrast, the Dow Jones industrial average is flirting with an all-time closing high and corporate profits are strong.
"There hasn't been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced," said Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays, referring to the gap between corporate earnings and disposable income.
Since 2008, corporate earnings have risen 20.1 percent at an annual rate while disposable income has gained 1.4 percent annually.
The Times reported Monday corporations that are hiring are doing so overseas.
3M Corp., for example, added 11,438 jobs since 2007, but only 608 of those jobs were in the United States, the Times said.
In recent years, business growth has been concentrated overseas and U.S. firms have learned, as they often do in an economic downturn, they can sustain output with fewer workers. They can also cut their workforce in tough times, which allows them to protect their bottom line, even if it comes at workers' expense.
"Right now, chief executive officers are saying, 'I don't really need to hire because of the productivity gains of the last few years,'" said Robert Moritz, chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a major accounting firm.
"If I don't have the business, at some point you've got to adjust the workforce. You always try to find solutions, but you get to a point where it's inevitable," said Louis Chenevert, CEO of United Technologies Corp., a Dow component.
Carlos Slim still world's richest man
NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Forbes magazine said Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helu kept his perch as the richest person in the world in 2013.
Helu, worth $73 billion, has been at the top of the billionaire list for four consecutive years. This year, his value stayed ahead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, valued at $67 billion, former Chairman of Inditex Amancio Ortega, valued at $57 billion and investment giant Warren Buffett, with an estimated net worth of $53.5 billion.
Ortega posted the largest gains in the year, adding $19.5 billion to his net worth, which pushed Buffett out of the top three for the first time since 2000.
The top 10 also includes co-founder of Oracle Corp. Larry Ellison, worth $43 billion; businessmen Charles and David Koch, each worth $34 billion; Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Li Ka-shing, worth $31 billion; L'Oreal-connected Liliane Bettencourt and family, worth $30 billion, and LVMH-connected Bernard Arnault and family, worth $29 billion.
The average age among the top 10 is 74.2 years with the oldest, Liliane Bettencourt age 90 and the youngest Bill Gates, a spry 57-years-old.
Truckers in Colombia begin strike
BUENAVENTURA, Colombia, March 4 (UPI) -- Truck drivers in Colombia have shut down a critical road to the port of Buenaventura to protest a hike in gasoline prices, reports say.
Colombia Reports said Monday that truckers had blocked the road to Cali, the country's third largest city, following through on Friday's ACC union declaration that action would be taken to make their point concerning a recent hike in gasoline prices.
"Colombia only understands things the hard way," ACC president, Pedro Aguilar said last week.
Reports estimated 12 trucks were blocking the road with five of them stripped of their tires to make it harder to clear the road.
The port of Buenaventura can operate for a month despite the strike, the port's director Domingo Chinea said.
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