UPDATE: Dow gains steam in afternoon trade; S&P 500 aims for 6-day win streak
By Anneken Tappe and Ryan Vlastelica
Vehicle sales come in better than expected, help add to market optimism
U.S. stock benchmarks scrambled deeper into record territory on Tuesday, setting the S&P 500 on course for its sixth gain in a row, as investors took their cues from upbeat data, including a report on vehicle sales.
What stock benchmarks are doing
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 84 points, or 0.4%, to 22,640. The S&P 500 rose 4 points to 2,533, an increase of 0.2%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 10 points, or 0.2%, to 6,526.
The S&P has gained for five consecutive trading days, its longest winning streak since a six-session advance that ended Sept. 1. The Dow has moved higher in four straight sessions, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has risen for five sessions in a row.
The Russell 2000 , meanwhile, fell around 3 points, or 0.2%, to 1,506. The index of small companies hit an all-time high in early trading, but soon turned lower and is on track to snap a seven-session rally.
What are driving markets?
Stocks have been supported by some strong economic data, including the recent ISM manufacturing survey (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/key-yardstick-of-us-manufacturers-touches-highest-level-since-2004-ism-finds-2017-10-02) for September, as well as hopes for tax-cut legislation. However, there are lingering concerns that the market's record advance--the S&P is up 13% year to date, the Dow is on track for a nearly 15% return thus far this year, while the Nasdaq has gained more than 20%--has been overdone. That's especially as the Federal Reserve increases borrowing costs.
What strategists are saying
Which stocks are in focus?
Shares in MGM Resorts International(MGM) shed 0.2% after falling 5.6% Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mgm-resorts-stock-falls-5-premarket-after-mandalay-bay-shooting-2017-10-02) in the wake of the mass shooting at the company's Mandalay Bay property in Las Vegas.
See:Las Vegas shooter Paddock had 42 guns and a 'bump stock' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/las-vegas-shooter-paddock-had-42-guns-and-a-device-enabling-firing-at-an-automatic-rate-2017-10-03)
Gun-maker stocks such as Smith & Wesson parent American Outdoor Brands Corp.(AOBC) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (RGR) also could see another active session after rallying Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gun-maker-stocks-surge-after-mass-shooting-in-las-vegas-2017-10-02). They often gain when traders think stricter regulations are coming, as sales can get a lift ahead of any change. Shares of both American Outdoor and Sturm rose 0.9%.
What are the data saying?
Major auto makers posted better-than-expected sales gains in September amid heavier consumer discounts and demand to replace hurricane-damaged vehicles, giving the industry relief from a protracted period of (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gm-ford-toyota-post-sharp-sept-sales-gains-2017-10-03-144851637)declining results.
General Motors Co.(GM) rose 2.7% after it reported U.S. sales growth of 12% (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gms-stock-shoots-up-to-record-high-after-september-sales-report-2017-10-03), with the stock hitting a record in early trading.
Ford Motor Co.(F) was up 2.3% after it posted sales growth of 8.7%. The auto maker was also in focus as new CEO Jim Hackett is due to provide an update on the company's progress (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-ford-chief-says-ready-to-tinker-under-the-hood-2017-09-30) at an investor meeting.
Fiat Chrysler's (FCA.MI) September numbers fell by 10% year-over-year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fiat-chryslers-us-september-sales-fall-with-sharp-declines-in-jeep-chrysler-and-dodge-brand-sales-2017-10-03), thanks to declines in its Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge brands. Its shares last traded slightly weaker, down 0.3% from yesterday.
Shares in Tesla Inc.(TSLA) pared previous losses and rose almost 1.6%. Late Monday, news came that third-quarter production for the electric car maker's Model 3 sedan was lower than anticipated, due to manufacturing bottlenecks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-model-3-hit-by-production-bottleneck-that-slowed-initial-deliveries-2017-10-02), causing Tesla's shares to take a dive.
Home builder Lennar Corp. (LEN) rose 5.3% after better-than-anticipated quarterly results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lennars-stock-set-for-rally-after-profit-and-sales-beat-expectations-2017-10-03).
Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)
What other assets are doing
European stock markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-pause-for-breath-after-8-day-winning-run-2017-10-03) traded in tight ranges on Tuesday, taking a breather after an eight-day winning streak. Asian equity markets largely closed higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hang-seng-nikkei-lead-market-gains-in-asia-2017-10-02), though some bourses remained closed for holidays.
Oil futures were trading slightly lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-slips-further-on-concerns-about-higher-supply-2017-10-03), while gold futures booked their third straight decline (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-extends-retreat-as-bond-yields-stocks-rise-2017-10-03), as the ICE U.S. Dollar Index inched higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-holds-ground-at-six-week-highs-2017-10-03).
--Victor Reklaitis contributed to this article
-Anneken Tappe; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires