Dow, S&P 500 power to new records on China stimulus

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks barrelled to fresh records Friday, easily eclipsing prior peaks following China's surprise interest-rate cut.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 91.06 points (0.51 per cent) to 17,810.06, posting its second straight record close.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 10.75 (0.52 per cent) to 2,063.50, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 11.10 (0.24 per cent) to 4,712.97.

The People's Bank of China unexpectedly cut benchmark interest rates for the first time in more than two years to boost sagging economic growth.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said China's move was "a huge benefit" for global economy.

Analysts also were encouraged by comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that the bank is ready to immediately expand stimulus efforts to return the eurozone to its inflation objective.

The twin China and ECB moves were "big news," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

"It's just the prescription the doctor ordered," Skrainka said.

"There is a serious risk of deflation in Europe and China was struggling to maintain its growth goal as well."

Equity markets in Britain (+1.1 per cent), France (+2.7 per cent) and Germany (+2.6 per cent) all rose.

Dow member Caterpillar, a big supplier to Chinese industry, gained 4.3 per cent.

Miners Freeport-McMoRan (+3.6 per cent) and Southern Copper (+4.6 per cent) jumped on rising copper prices in anticipation of stronger Chinese demand, while oil stocks like Dow member ExxonMobil (+1.0 per cent) and Halliburton (+2.9 per cent) also gained.

Dow member Microsoft fell 1.5 per cent after Jefferies rated it "underperform."

Jefferies said the tech giant's position in mobile technology is weak and that chief executive Satya Nadella is unlikely to make significant changes.

Sotheby's bolted 6.9 per cent higher after it announced that chief executive William Ruprecht stepped down.

The move follows pressure by activist shareholder Daniel Loeb, who pushed his way onto the Sotheby's board earlier this year.

Hertz Global Holdings gained 4.5 per cent as it named former United Airlines chief operating officer John Tague as its new chief executive.

The appointment comes after another prominent activist, Carl Icahn, won three Hertz board seats in September.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.32 per cent from 2.34 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year dipped to 3.02 per cent from 3.05 per cent. Bond yields and prices move inversely.