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U.S. stocks post gains

NEW YORK, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes shot up Tuesday as the U.S. Commerce Department said factory orders rose 3 percent in February.


In Europe, statistical agency Eurostat said unemployment in February rose from 10.8 percent to 12 percent. Markit Economics said Britain's manufacturing sector remained in a slump but U.S. investors shrugged off those reports.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 89.16 points, or 0.61 percent, to 14,662.01. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 8.08 points, or 0.52 percent, to 1,570.25. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.48 percent, adding 15.69 points, to 3,254.86.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,460 stocks advanced and 1,563 declined on a volume of 3.2 billion shares traded.

Ten-year U.S. treasury bonds fell 7/32 to yield 1.86 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.282 from Monday's $1.2849. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 93.42 yen from 93.24 yen.


In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index shed 1.08 percent, 131.59 points, to 12,003.43.

In London, the FTSE 100 index gained 1.23 percent, 78.92 points, to 6,490.66.

Car sales drag, while truck sales rev up

DETROIT, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. new vehicle sales rose 3.4 percent in March from last year with light trucks sales up and sales of passenger cars down, industry figures showed.

Compared to March 2012, sales of passenger cars dropped 1.3 percent to 753,702 from 763,306. Sales of light trucks -- what might be called residential trucks as opposed to commercial trucks -- rose 9 percent from March 2012, Autodata said Tuesday.

General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. fit the pattern with passenger car sales off 3.3 percent, 0.2 percent, and 3.7 percent, respectively, and gains of 13.8 percent, 9.4 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, in truck sales.

But Chrysler LLC and American Honda Motor Company Inc. went the other way. Chrysler's passenger car sales leaped 20.6 percent from March a year ago, while truck sales slipped 2.1 percent.

Honda's car sales rose 13.8 percent, while sales of light trucks slid 0.3 percent, Autodata reported.


Eurozone slump could exceed the last one

BRUSSELS, April 2 (UPI) -- Recent data shows that the current recession in the 17-member eurozone will last longer than the last one, an economist from Markit Economics said.

"The eurozone manufacturing sector looks likely to have acted as a drag on the economy in the first quarter, with an acceleration in the rate of decline in March raising the risk that the downturn may also intensify in the second quarter," said Chris Williamson, Markit's chief economist.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that evidence that the 17 countries that use the euro as currency will notch a sixth consecutive quarter in which the region's economy contracted is mounting up. That would make the current recession longer than the one that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

Recent data includes Tuesday's announcement that unemployment in the currency region reached a record 12 percent in February. A Markit index of manufacturing activity showed its headline business activity index at the lowest point in three months in March.

The index for new orders also dropped to a three-month low in the month, Markit said.

The data could put pressure on the European Central Bank to cut lending rates, but there is no guarantee such an announcement will be made after Thursday's fiscal policy meeting.


Some of the bank's policy makers have already voiced concern over the limited effect a cut in interest rates would have, as it would not help the smaller economies as much as the larger ones, given the trouble in the banking system currently plaguing the smaller countries.

A slow three months for mergers

NEW YORK, April 2 (UPI) -- The value of mergers and acquisitions in the first quarter jumped in the United States, but fell worldwide in the first quarter to a 10-year low.

Worldwide, the value of deals was the lowest it has been since 2003, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The value of the deals reached worldwide $542.8 billion, which was higher than January through March in 2012, but lower than the first quarter of 2011 by 26 percent.

In the United States, a few individual deals pushed the overall merger and acquisitions value to $269.8 billion, 89 percent higher than the first three months of 2012.

Those deals include a $24.4 billion offer for computer giant Dell. But that deal is facing opposition and may be rejected by a shareholder vote.

In Europe, a 2,705 deals with a value of $125.7 billion were announced, sharply slower than the same period a year earlier.


"The mergers and acquisitions market remains uneven," said Scott Lindsay, global head of mergers and acquisitions at Credit Suisse.

The environment for deals is also uneven. Stock values are soaring with two major U.S. indexes – the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index – reaching all time closing highs in the quarter.

Interest rates are very low by historical standards. The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced they would likely stay low for several more years, which means interest rates won't rise soon.

Still, executives are shying away from big deals.

"There's a little bit of everything going on right now. But you would think there would be more activity than there is," Lindsay said.

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