The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index and the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index broke through to new highs for the year today as stocks rose in response to government reports showing unexpectedly strong retail sales last month and no inflation whatsoever.
Retail sales climbed 1.7 percent, the Commerce Department reported, with the General Motors, "you-pay-what-we-pay" discount plan pushing car sales way up.
Despite the spending pressure, the consumer price index did not budge, giving the nation an inflation rate of zero -- the best investors could hope for.
Led by Apple Computer -- whose stock soared on swelling sales of the iPod music player -- the Nasdaq composite gained almost nine points to 2,152.82 -- its highest close this year.
The S&P 500, which professional investors regard as the most important measure of the market, climbed three points to 1,226.50 -- breaking through not only to a new high for the year, but a new four-year high.
The Dow Jones industrial average advanced almost 72 points to 10,628.89, which left the laggard blue chip index down about 300 points since January.
Although new highs for the market often produce predictions that even higher highs are ahead, today the market commentators were more cautious. The resurgent S&P has climbed almost 8 percent from its low last spring -- such a good run that investors fear it is due for a pullback.
Stocks also are vulnerable to a rebound in oil prices, which fell for the third day in a row. Crude oil futures to be delivered next month dropped $2.21 a barrel to $57.80 after reports that U.S. petroleum stocks are growing and that demand for oil in China may be overestimated.