S&P 500 closes at new record high

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). -- PHOTO: AFP
Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The S&P 500 bolted to a fresh record high close Thursday, led by strong gains in Apple, Facebook and other technology stocks.

The broad-market S&P 500 rose 22.62 points (1.08 per cent) to 2,121.10, more than three points above the prior record of 2,117.69 set on April 24.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 191.75 (1.06 per cent) to 18,252.24, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 69.10 (1.39 per cent) at 5,050.80.

Analysts said the equities surge was partly due to technical factors, such as the market's ability to rally earlier in the week as it flirted with a key level on the lower end of the recent trading range.

"The problem is the last few times we got one of these big up days, there was no follow-through the next days," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

"Today is nice, but tomorrow's the real test."

The new S&P 500 record reflected the continued resilience of US stocks thanks to loose monetary policy and in spite of lacklustre US data, such as Wednesday's report showing flat retail sales in April.

Apple, the biggest company by market capitalization, surged 2.3 per cent. Others with large gains included Facebook (+3.7 per cent), Microsoft (+2.3 per cent) and many biotechnology stocks, including Gilead Sciences (+2.2 per cent).

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores gained 0.7 per cent as it unveiled a test programme in the US to give online customers unlimited delivery of goods for US$50 (S$65) a year, putting it in direct competition with Amazon's "Prime" service.

Department-store chain Kohl's became the latest large retailer to report disappointing results, plummeting 13.3 per cent after first-quarter sales of US$4.12 billion, below the US$4.19 billion projected by analysts.

Other retailers that fell included Target (-3.2 per cent) and Best Buy (-3.8 per cent).

Cosmetics company Avon Products rose 6 per cent following an apparently bogus takeover offer from an entity calling itself PTG Capital Partners.

Avon said it had received no offer from PTG "and has not been able to confirm such an entity exists."

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury fell to 2.24 per cent from 2.29 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year dropped to 3.06 per cent from 3.08 per cent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.