US stock indexes extend climb into record heights

Wall Street capped a week of milestones Friday with a rally that pushed the major stock indexes to all-time highs for the second day in a row.

 

Small-company stocks did better than larger ones, nudging the Russell 2000 index to a record high for the first time since December.

Miners and other raw materials companies led the gainers. Rising crude oil prices also gave energy companies a big boost. Consumer goods stocks were essentially flat.

Strong company earnings and investor optimism over the Trump administration’s promises of tax cuts, less government regulation and other policies helped fuel the market’s gains much of the week. News that OPEC is largely adhering to a recent pact to cut crude oil production has also helped lift markets. The daily market moves have been mostly small, but big enough to push indexes to new heights.

“We had a drought for a very, very long time last year where we went almost a year and a half without hitting a new high, which was the longest time ever,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. “Now we’re back to what I would say is more of a typical move, where you get record highs consistently.”

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 96.97 points, or 0.5 percent, to 20,269.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 8.23 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,316.10. The Nasdaq composite index added 18.95 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,734.13. All told, the Nasdaq closed at a record high four times this week, as well as last Friday.

The Russell 2000 picked up 10.32 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,388.84.

Trading got off to a good start early Friday, as investors sized up the latest batch of company earnings. Some 70 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported quarterly results as of Friday. About 40 percent of those turned in earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s forecasts, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Earnings are on track to mark the second-consecutive quarter of growth after a five-quarter losing streak.

Beyond earnings, investors are also eying Washington D.C. for signs the Trump administration will deliver on the promised business-friendly policy proposals that helped drive a market rally last fall, including slashing government regulations and taxes.

“The market has been pretty generous ever since the election in moving in anticipation of what might come,” Frederick said. “The question is at what point does the market expect to see things actually happen versus just promises of action. That’s the tricky part.”

Investors bid up shares in companies that turned in better earnings or outlooks than Wall Street was expecting, including footwear company Skechers, video game publisher Activision Blizzard and real estate investment company CBRE Group.

Skechers gained $4.50, or 19.3 percent, to $27.78, while CBRE Group climbed $2.43, or 7.7 percent, to $34. Activision Blizzard was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The maker of “Call of Duty,” ”Candy Crush” and other video games jumped $7.50, or 18.9 percent, to $47.23.

Other companies’ quarterly report cards failed to impress traders.

Yelp skidded 13.6 percent after the online reviews company’s revenue forecasts disappointed Wall Street. The stock slid $5.66 to $35.83.

Cerner slumped 4.4 percent after the health care information technology company lowered its earnings and revenue guidance for the year. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. It fell $2.38 to $51.50.

Soaring copper prices gave gold and copper miner Freeport-McMoRan a lift. It rose 41 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $15.80.

Investors also welcomed Sears’ huge cost-savings initiative. The troubled department store chain said Friday that it will slash at least $1 billion a year in costs by selling stores, cutting jobs or selling some of its well-known brands. The stock leaped $1.42, or 25.6 percent, to $6.96.

In deal news, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. rose 5.6 percent after the baby formula maker agreed to be bought by British household products company Reckitt Benckiser for $90 a share, or $16.6 billion. Mead Johnson shares climbed $4.67 to $87.72.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $53.86 a barrel in New York. The contract rose 66 cents on Thursday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, gained $1.07, or 1.9 percent, to close at $56.70 a barrel in London. Natural gas futures declined 11 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $3.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed mostly higher.

Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.4 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 was flat. Greece’s stock market gained 2.5 percent as its creditors met to find a way to ease concerns about the future of its bailout program.

In Asia, investors welcomed strong January trade data from China. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 2.5 percent as the yen weakened against the dollar, lifting shares of exporters.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.41 percent from 2.40 percent late Thursday.

The dollar strengthened to 113.41 yen, up from 113.33 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.0631 from $1.0658.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon, while heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.67 a gallon.

Among metals, the price of gold fell 70 cents to $1,234.40 an ounce. Silver rose 19 cents to $17.93 an ounce. Copper added 11 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $2.77 a pound.

 

More

2nd swimmer injured by sea lion in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on sea lion attacks on swimmers in San Francisco Bay (all times local):

Read more

Court rules for AP in reporter impersonation document fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has sided with reporters in a court fight over documents that began after an FBI agent pretended to be an Associated Press journalist while investigating bomb threats at a Washington state high school.

Read more