Stock Market Today: Standard & Poor's 500 Index Closes at Record High

U.S. stocks today closed higher today after manufacturing data was better than expected and consumer sentiment improved, although the Nasdaq's technology stocks closed in the red.

Consumer sentiment improved to 81.6 in February from 81.2 in January, according to the final revision of the February Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.

And the Chicago purchasing managers' index rose to 59.8 in February from 59.6, whereas the consensus was for a decline to 56.4.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.30% or 49 points, at 16,322 points; the S&P 500 closed up 0.25%, or 11 points, at 4,308 points; and the Nasdaq closed down 0.25%, or 11 points at 4,308 points. The S&P 500 hit a record close.

Energy futures were also perky today, with light, sweet crude oil for April delivery trading up 0.33% at $102.74 per barrel; heating oil for March delivery trading up 0.3% at $3.02 per gallon; natural gas traded up 2.9% at $4.64 per million BTUs.

Agriculture commodities were also strongly up, with corn for May delivery up 2.04 at $463.75 per bushel and wheat up 2.6% at $604.50 per bushel. Soybeans were up 1.4% at $1,409 per bushel.

But metal futures were weighed; gold for April delivery closed down 0.8% at $1,321.60 per ounce, wrapping up the second month of gains for gold. Silver was up about 0.7% at $21.17 per troy ounce and platinum was down 0.5% at $1,445.90.

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Today's Top Gainers: Monster Beverages, MercadoLibre

In bigger movers today, Varonis System (Nasdaq: VRNS) surged 88%, with shares tapping a high of $42.02 on its debut to the Nasdaq.

The data security firm planned to offer 4.8 million shares in its IPO today, as it raised its IPO price to $22 from an earlier expected range of $19 to $21 per share. So far, major investors include Accel Partnersk, Evergreen Venture Partners, and EMC Corp.

And, Monster Beverage Corp. (Nasdaq: MNST) shares were up 5.4% at $74.89, marking a session high at $75.49, quite close to its 52-week high of $75.63, after it reported net income rose 12% to $76 million in the fourth quarter.

Monster reported fourth-quarter earnings of $0.44 per share, short of the Street view, but it had better than expected revenue of $540.8 million, versus the $525 million consensus.

Finally, MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI), an e-commerce company, spiked more than 8% after it reported fourth-quarter revenue of $134.6 million, topping the Street view of $132.8 million. Earnings were $0.93 per share, more than the $0.77 the Street expected.

MELI hit a session high of $112.88 and was trading in a 52-week range of $84.25 to $145.99.

Today's Biggest Losers: Deckers, Pearson

But, despite the generally upbeat session, several stocks lost substantial ground.

Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Nasdaq: DECK) sank 13% after reporting an expected first-quarter loss of $0.16 per share, much larger than the $0.11 per share loss the Street called for.

Also, Pearson (NYSE: PSO) shares were down about 7%, hitting a new 52-week low of $16.76 after it reported that it expects full-year profits of $1.44 billion, lower than the 2012 figure. It said it is trying to reduce costs and redirect investment toward bigger "future growth opportunities."

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