NEW YORK: Wall Street’s main stock indexes rose to fresh all-time closing highs on Friday as a spike in oil prices supported energy shares and investors renewed their optimism about President Donald Trump’s economic agenda.
The S&P 500 tallied its fourth straight session of gains, a day after Trump vowed a major tax announcement in the next few weeks.
The benchmark S&P 500 has surged 8.3 per cent since Trump’s Nov. 8 election, fuelled by expectations he will lower corporate taxes, reduce regulations and increase infrastructure spending.
The rally had stalled amid concerns over Trump’s protectionist stance and lack of clarity on policy reforms.
“Investors were worried that the administration may have gotten off track and was pursuing other items,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
“Tax cuts have gotten put back on the front burner,” Forrest said, adding, “We are looking for gains in the economy at large from this, not just (earnings per share) gains in stocks.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96.97 points, or 0.48 per cent, to end at 20,269.37, the S&P 500 gained 8.23 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 2,316.10 and the Nasdaq Composite added 18.95 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 5,734.13.
The S&P and Dow closed at a record high for a second straight session, while the Nasdaq extended its streak of record closes to a fourth day.
Energy shares gained 0.8 per cent. Oil prices rose more than 1 per cent after reports that Opec members delivered more than 90 per cent of the output cuts they pledged in a deal that took effect in January.
Energy could continue to be in focus next week, when a host of small-cap companies in energy are due to report results.
The S&P financial sector ended up 0.2 per cent. The group initially moved higher after Daniel Tarullo, the top Federal Reserve official charged with financial regulation, said he would resign, creating further room for Trump to reshape the Fed’s policymaking staff.
The focus on Washington comes as large US companies were set for their second straight quarter of profit increases after several periods of declines.
With more than 70 per cent of the S&P 500 having reported results, fourth-quarter earnings are on track to have climbed 8.4 per cent, which would be the best performance since the third quarter of 2014, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“We are seeing a pretty solid rate of beats and we’re out of the earnings recession,” said Jason Ware, chief investment officer at Albion Financial Group in Salt Lake City.
Activision Blizzard surged 18.9 per cent after the video game publisher reported higher-than-expected revenue and set a $1 billion share buy-back program. Its shares gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
Skechers USA jumped 19.3 per cent after the footwear maker’s fourth-quarter revenue beat expectations.
Sears Holding soared 25.6 per cent after the struggling retailer said it would cut costs by $1 billion and reduce debt and pension obligations by at least $1.5 billion this year.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.60-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.05-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 48 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 151 new highs and 22 new lows.
About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, compared with the 6.7 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
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