* 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 (Reuters) - 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 consumer data.
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 of $142.87.
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 billion.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen did not comment on the central bank’s monetary policy, while speaking at a conference in Washington.
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 Anil D‘Silva)