Strong tech gains lift Dow, S&P 500 to records

NEW YORK (AFP) - Strong gains by Microsoft and other technology companies lifted the Dow and S&P 500 to fresh records Wednesday, extending a three-week rally.

The Dow won its sixth straight record, gaining 0.2 per cent to 18,595.03.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 0.4 per cent to 2,173.02, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.1 per cent to 5,089.93.

Key gainers included Microsoft, which rose 5.3 per cent after better-than-expected earnings, and Intel and Cisco Systems, which advanced 1.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent, respectively.

Investors have been encouraged by the tone of many companies that have reported earnings, said Gregori Volokhine, president Meeschaert Capital Markets.

“It’s not only that the results are good, but companies are expressing confidence in their outlook,” he said.

Morgan Stanley jumped 2.1 per cent after reporting second-quarter earnings that translated to 75 cents per share, more than the 59 cents projected by analysts. Results were boosted by cost-cutting efforts.

Halliburton dropped 1.6 per cent after reporting a loss of US$3.2 billion (S$4.3 billion) in the second quarter, due mainly to a US$3.5 billion payout to Baker Hughes after the Justice Department blocked Halliburton’s proposed takeover of its rival.

Twenty-First Century Fox fell 2.3 per cent following reports that longtime Fox News chief Roger Ailes is negotiating his departure from the money-making network following a lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed a star host.

US shares of beer giant AB InBev climbed 1.3 per cent on news that the US Justice Department approved its takeover of rival SABMiller after requiring the divestiture of SABMiller’s entire US business.

Disney dropped 1.3 per cent after being downgraded by Stifel.