NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are charging ahead in the early going on Wall Street. Traders are looking for more positive news on the U.S. economy today, with automakers releasing sales data for March. The Dow quickly added 80 points, while the broader indexes were recouping yesterday's modest losses. Health care stocks are making the strongest gains among the 10 industry groups that make up the S&P, after government data for Medicare Advantage plans showed less severe funding cuts than investors had feared.
DETROIT (AP) — Ford says it sold 6 percent more cars last month than it did in March of last year, and Chrysler reports a 5 percent gain. It was the automakers' best sales month in nearly six years, as U.S. auto sales continue to be a bright spot in the economy. General Motors says its sales were also up 6 percent in March. Toyota's U.S. sales gained just 1 percent, but it had a very strong March last year.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories rose sharply in February, helped by a surge in demand for aircraft. The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 3 percent in February, after a 1 percent decline in January. But orders for core capital goods, which include machinery and equipment orders, fell 3.2 percent after a big surge in January. Economists closely watch these orders because they signal business investment plans.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fannie Mae is reporting its biggest quarterly profit ever. The mortgage giant earned $7.6 billion from October through December, The gain was driven by an improving housing market and a multi-billion dollar legal settlement with Bank of America. Fannie says it paid dividends of $11.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury in 2012 and expects to remain profitable "for the foreseeable future." So far, Fannie has paid back a third of the $116 billion taxpayer rescue it received during the financial crisis.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' finance minister has resigned. Michalis Sarris took the post only in February, but he's come under strong criticism for his handling of negotiations with Cyprus' international creditors. Earlier in the day, Cyprus' president ordered an investigation into how the country's economy reached the point of collapse last month.