S&P 500 closes at new record high; Dow above 18,000

NEW YORK (AFP) - The S&P 500 on Friday closed at a fresh record high, while the Dow ended above 18,000 for the first time in 2015 following good economic data out of Germany.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 8.51 points (0.41 per cent) at 2,096.99, almost 6.5 points above the prior record set Dec 29.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46.97 (0.26 per cent) to 18,019.35, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 36.22 (0.75 per cent) to 4,893.84.

In the period from October to December, gross domestic product in Germany expanded by a better-than-expected 0.7 per cent, bringing full-year growth to 1.6 per cent, the German federal statistics office said.

The strong data helped push the German DAX above 11,000 intraday, with the index finishing up 0.40 per cent at 10,963.40 points.

Other European equity markets also rose as Greece appeared closer to a possible overhaul of its multi-billion euro bailout.

Investors were also heartened by another rise in oil prices, with the benchmark European contract for crude finishing above US$60 a barrel in London.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said investor sentiment is improving.

"While investors recognise the market may be expensive, I don't think too many people are calling for the next crisis around the corner," he said.