Dow reaches a new high on improving sentiment

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow Jones Industrial Average shook off early weakness on Tuesday and pressed through to another record close, led by strong gains in tech shares Microsoft and Intel.

The Dow rose 59.98 points (0.41 per cent) to 14,673.46.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 5.54 (0.35 per cent) to 1,568.61, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 15.61 (0.48 per cent) to 3,237.86.

Technology shares drove the gains: Microsoft (+3.6 per cent), Intel (+3.1 per cent), Cisco (+1.9 per cent) and Oracle (+2.1 per cent). A 2.1 per cent rise by Dow member Caterpillar also helped.

"There's this feeling that overseas investors might be piling into large US equities that are deemed to be safe," said Mr Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at broker BTIG.

Solar cell maker First Solar surged 45.5 per cent after surprising the market with a forecast for strong sales through 2015. The company projected US$3.8 billion to US$4 billion (S$4.7 billion to S$4.95 billion) in net sales in 2013.

Struggling retail giant J.C. Penney sank 12.2 per cent one day after replacing controversial chief executive Ron Johnson with Johnson's predecessor Myron Ullman.

Nutrition and weight-management company Herbalife lost 3.8 per cent after announcing that its accounting firm, KPMG, was resigning due to the alleged insider trading of a KPMG partner.

Popular footware maker Skechers gained 1.9 per cent after it also announced that auditor KPMG was resigning after misconduct by a KPMG partner.

Starwood Property Trust gave up 3.8 per cent after announcing a plan to issue 26.5 million shares to raise funds for investment in commercial mortgage assets.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.75 per cent from 1.73 per cent, while the 30-year bond edged to 2.93 per cent from 2.90 per cent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.