The floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan....

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan. (March 15, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

A positive report on U.S. manufacturing overshadowed concerns about weaker global growth and lifted stocks to multi-year highs Monday.

The Institute for Supply Management said that its index of manufacturing activity rose strongly this month. A measure of manufacturing employment rose to a nine-month high.

After the ISM report, the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up 10.57 points at 1,419.04 -- its highest close since May 19, 2008.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 52.45 points to close at 13,264.49. It hasn't closed that high since the last day of 2007. The Nasdaq composite average gained 28.13 to 3,119.70.

From January through March, the Dow rose 8 percent and the S&P 12 percent, the best first quarter for those indexes since 1998. The Nasdaq rose 19 percent, its best first quarter since 1991.

The rally was broad, lifting all 10 of the S&P 500's industry groups. Rising commodity prices gave materials and energy companies some of the strongest gains.

A weaker report on U.S. construction activity kept traders' enthusiasm in check. Builders slowed their activity for a second straight month in February, pushing construction spending down by the largest amount in seven months. -- AP

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