MARKETS
Nasdaq approaching record set in 2000

The Nasdaq composite closed above 5000 for the first time since its peak during the dot-com boom nearly 15 years ago after merger news and an encouraging economic report helped push U.S. stocks broadly higher Monday.

The major indexes rose from the start, with the Nasdaq passing the 5000 milestone shortly before noon. The tech-heavy index then dropped before rising toward the close to end at 5008.10 — just 40 points from its March 2000 record.

Investors cheered a report from the government showing household incomes rose in January, although they spent less than a month earlier. Consumer discretionary stocks rose 1.2 percent on the news, the most of the 10 industry sectors of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

“Today, it’s about the consumer,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial. “Consumers appear to be feeling a little bit better.”

The S&P 500 closed up 12.89 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2117.39. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 155.93 points, or 0.9 percent, to 18,288.63. The Nasdaq rose 44.57 points, or 0.9 percent.

The broad gains on the first trading day of March came after the best monthly advance for stocks in more than three years. The S&P 500 climbed 5.5 percent in February, its biggest gain since October 2011.

In the U.S. government report, the dip in consumer spending in January was the second monthly drop in a row. But adjusted for inflation, spending rose. And analysts are expecting that the strong income gains will lead to more spending the rest of the year. Household income after taxes shot up 0.9 percent in January, the biggest gain in two years.

— Associated Press

COMMUNICATIONS
Google may offer wireless service

A top Google executive has confirmed what many have been speculating for months: The Internet search giant wants to start offering wireless service.

Google isn’t necessarily looking to become the next Verizon or AT&T, said Sundar Pichai, Google’s head of Android, at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Pichai said more details will trickle out in the next few months as Google announces partnerships with wireless carriers and other businesses, according to news reports. Analysts said Google is likely to partner with firms such as T-Mobile and Sprint rather than build its own network from scratch.

Asked whether Google’s aim was to drive wireless prices down for consumers, Pichai said the experiment’s goal is to showcase new mobile innovations, according to the Verge . An example: Technology that can automatically reconnect dropped calls.

But by adding wireless service to its very long chain of mobile offerings, Google would be showcasing something nobody else has tried: a unified cellular experience that's entirely within the Google ecosystem. Google sells a combination of hardware and software with its line of Nexus phones.

“I think we’re at the stage where we need to think of hardware, software and connectivity together,” the Verge quoted Pichai as saying.

— Brian Fung

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