* Consumer confidence index jumps to 16-yr high in March
* Financial stocks lead gainers among S&P sectors
* Apple hits record high; top stock on S&P, Nasdaq
* Indexes up: Dow 0.45 pct, S&P 0.50 pct, Nasdaq 0.33 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 28 U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday, with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to snap an eight-day
losing streak as financial stocks jumped on the back of strong
U.S. consumers' confidence in the economy rose in March to
its highest level since December 2000, a survey by the
Conference Board showed on Tuesday, led by optimism for finding
work and a brighter assessment of business conditions.
The S&P 500 financial sector jumped 1.16 percent,
led by Bank of America. Gains in Goldman Sachs
and JPMorgan boosted the Dow.
"This market is driven by two things - the hope of policy
agenda getting put into place and improving fundamentals," said
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital
Markets in New York.
"Whenever you found out that the agenda might take longer to
get put out, you've gotten some piece of economic data that
reminds you that the fundamental backdrop is still strong."
The CBOE Volatility index eased, a day after hitting
its highest level since November. Gold lost some shine as a
safe-haven, while the dollar edged up.
At 12:25 p.m. ET (1625 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was up 92.38 points, or 0.45 percent, at
20,643.36, the S&P 500 was up 11.69 points, or 0.50
percent, at 2,353.28 and the Nasdaq Composite was up
18.99 points, or 0.33 percent, at 5,859.37.
Tuesday's gains come after a week of declines on the Dow as
investors fretted over President Donald Trump's ability to push
his agenda after the healthcare bill failed to get enough
support, leading to its withdrawal in Congress on Friday.
However, investors appeared to have shrugged off the
setback, choosing instead to focus on Trump's promise of
reforming the U.S. tax code, which has been a key driver in the
post-election record rally.
The White House late on Monday said it would take a lead
role in crafting the tax reform legislature and set an August
target date for the bill.
Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher with
financials, energy and materials gaining more
than 1 percent. Three sectors were flat.
Apple's 1.3 percent gain made it the top stock on
the S&P and the Nasdaq, shortly after hitting an all-time high
General Motors rose 3.2 percent to $35.85 after
activist investor David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital urged the
carmaker to split its stock into two classes.
Tesla rose 2.8 percent to $277.82 after disclosing
that Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings had
taken a 5 percent passive stake in the company for $1.78
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen did not comment on the
central bank's monetary policy, while speaking at a conference
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,972
to 847. On the Nasdaq, 1,525 issues rose and 1,178 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and four new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and 27 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by