NEW YORK — Strong February retail sales are driving stocks higher. The Nasdaq is pushing above 3,000 for the first time in two weeks.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that U.S. retail sales rose 1.1 percent last month, the biggest gain since September. Some of the gain reflected higher gas prices, but consumers also bought more cars, clothes and appliances.
The Dow Jones industrial average is up 109 points to 13,069 shortly before noon. That's a gain of 0.8 percent.
The Nasdaq gained 30 points, or 1 percent, to 3,014. The Nasdaq last broke through the 3,000 mark Feb. 29 but ended the day lower. The last time the index closed above that level was in December 2000.
The S&P 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,383.