Rise in factory orders pushes stocks higher

NEW YORK (AP) ? Stocks rose Wednesday, capping a wild month in the stock market, after a surge in factory orders reassured investors that the manufacturing industry remains healthy.

Factory orders rose 2.4 percent in July, the biggest increase since March. Demand for automobiles jumped by the largest amount in eight years and orders for commercial airplanes soared. Manufacturing has been one of the strongest parts of the economy since the recession ended about two years ago.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 143 points, or 1.2 percent, to 11,703. The Dow turned positive for the year, and has risen seven of the last eight days. Aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. rose 4.3 percent, the most of the 30 companies that make up the Dow average.

Joy Global rose 5.1 percent after the mining equipment maker said its earnings rose 46 percent because of strong global demand for commodities like copper and coal.

That helped to push up other stocks in the mining and commodities industry. Mining operator Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. rose 3.2 percent and equipment giant Caterpillar Inc. rose 2.4 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 16, or 1.4 percent, to 1,229. The Nasdaq composite index rose 34, or 1.3 percent, to 2,610.

August has been volatile for investors. After S&P downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating, the Dow had four consecutive days of 400-point swings. That’s the first time that happened in its 115-year history.

The S&P 500 hit a low for the year on Aug. 8., immediately after the downgrade Since then, it has risen 9.7 percent.