Stocks pushed out of the gate with solid gains after a key index of Chinese purchasing managers activity for March jumped to its highest level in eight months; Dow +0.6%, S&P +0.7%, Nasdaq +0.8%.
Markets are overlooking a disappointing U.S. retail sales report for February, which showed a surprise 0.2% contraction, due in part to an upward revision to the January reading to 0.7% from 0.2% previously.
Asian equities surged on the Chinese data, with the Shanghai Composite closing +2.6% and Japan's Nikkei +1.4%; in Europe, where final March Manufacturing PMI readings from Germany fell from its flash estimate, Germany's DAX +1%, France's CAC +0.7%, U.K.'s FTSE +0.6%.
In corporate news, major airlines including Delta, Southwest and United Continental suffered from system-wide outages but late reports indicate that operations are being restored.
The financials (+1.1%), industrials (+1.1%), technology (+0.9%) and consumer discretionary (+0.9%) groups show early strengthy, while rate-sensitive sectors such as utilities (-0.4%), real estate (-0.1%) and consumer staples (-0.1%) lag the opening rally.
Treasury prices start lower, lifting the benchmark 10-year yield 3 bps higher to 2.44%.
U.S. WTI crude oil +0.8% at $60.61/bbl on tight supply and broad economic optimism.
Still ahead: January business inventories, February construction spending, March ISM manufacturing
Now read: PMI Manufacturing shy of estimates »
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