Stocks begin quarter with broad rally, Dow comes within two points of 17K

|By:, SA News Editor

The S&P and Dow rallied to finish at new all-time highs but pared earlier gains that took the Dow to the brink of 17,000 for the first time; the Nasdaq pushed to its highest level since March 2000, while the Russell 2000 finished just short of its high set March 4.

Investors were heartened by data that showed expansion in U.S. manufacturing and better than expected sales for major U.S. automakers; China's first manufacturing expansion since December also helped early sentiment.

GM jumped 3% as the automaker reported its U.S. car and light truck sales rose 1% in June, while Netflix surged 7% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to Buy; utilities lagged, with Exelon falling 2% as one of the bigger S&P losers.

Participation was light, with fewer than 675M shares traded at the NYSE.

Treasury prices fell steadily through the session, with the 10-year note shedding nine ticks and raising the benchmark yield by 3 bps to 2.56%.