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US: Stocks move higher, pushing Nasdaq to new record


[NEW YORK] US stocks scored modest gains on Tuesday amid positive US and eurozone data as investors kept a wait-and-see attitude on Greece's potential debt deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 24.29 points (0.13 per cent) to 18,144.07.

The broad-market S&P 500 held close to the flatline, gaining 1.35 (0.06 per cent) at 2,124.20, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite rose 6.12 (0.12 per cent) to 5,160.09, hitting a record close for the second day in a row.

"The fact the market had a strong move during the last couple of days and hasn't really given anything back, I think it's actually a positive day for those who have a positive bias," said Michael James of Wedbush Securities.

While there was still uncertainty about whether Greece will strike a deal with its creditors and avoid default, "at least for now people are coming to grips with whatever the end result is in Greece - it's not going to derail the positives above the European or the US economies," said James.

Major European equities markets made stronger gains on hopes of a deal on Greece's bailout and a surge in eurozone business activity that drove PMI to its best level in four years.

US data was mixed, with durable goods orders falling sharply in May but sales of new homes surging to their best rate in seven years, suggesting construction will soar.

AT&T jumped 2.5 per cent after earnings analyst upgrades at UBS and Barclays. Verizon, AT&T's main competitor in the telecoms sector, added 0.5 per cent. Verizon also completed its acquisition of faded Internet pioneer AOL.

Darden Restaurants, the owner of the Olive Garden, Capital Grille and other chains, pared strong gains to close essentially flat after beating expectations in its fiscal fourth-quarter results and announcing plans to hive off some real-estate assets.

On the Dow, UnitedHealth was by far the top gainer, adding 2.1 per cent as more talk of big merger and acquisition deals spreads through the sector.

Among losers, Twitter fell 0.5 per cent and Dow member Microsoft lost 0.7 per cent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.41 per cent from 2.38 per cent Monday, while the 30-year advanced to 3.20 per cent from 3.17 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.