Dow hits record on U.S. economic gains

Traders work on the floor of the New

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan last week. (March 28, 2013) (Credit: Getty Images)

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The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high Tuesday after reports on auto sales and factory orders provided more evidence the U.S. economy is strengthening. Traders plowed money back into European stocks as the financial crisis in Cyprus appears to have stabilized.

Health insurers powered the gains a day after the government released revised reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage plans. The new numbers suggest that funding cuts will be less severe than analysts had feared.

The Dow was up 89.16 points, at 14,662.01. It had risen as high as 14,684 in the late morning.

The Dow broke through a record on March 5. It has risen steadily since then, routinely setting new trading highs.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.52 percent to 1,570.25, a closing record. It rose to within two points of its trading high of 1,576 reached on Oct. 11, 2007. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.48 percent to 3,254.86

The trading day began with solid March sales reports from U.S. automakers. Chrysler said it sold more cars and trucks than in any month since the recession began, an increase of 5 percent.

U.S. factories' orders rose 3 percent in February, driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft.

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