US stocks again close at new records; Dow up 0.6 per cent

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Feb 21, 2017, in New York City.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Feb 21, 2017, in New York City.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks jumped on Tuesday (Feb 21) with retailers and energy firms among the winners as positive sentiment about President Donald Trump’s economic agenda again lifted the market to fresh records at the close.

All three major equity indices finished at all-time highs for the seventh time in eight sessions, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.6 per cent at 20,743.00.

The broad-based S&P 500 also gained 0.6 per cent to end the day at 2,365.38, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 5,865.95.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said the latest records reflected “continued panic buying” as money managers fear missing out on new peaks.

The surge has been prompted by expectations Trump will imminently unveil details of a major tax plan, perhaps at his Feb 28 State of the Union address.

Other factors behind Tuesday’s gains included higher oil prices and better-than-expected earnings from retailers. European markets also got a lift from a positive euro zone economic report.

Wal-Mart jumped 3 per cent after reporting a 1.8 per cent gain in fourth-quarter comparable sales at US stores. The retail giant also saw strong increases in e-commerce, although profits were pinched by increased spending.

Home Depot gained 1.4 per cent after reporting an 18.6 per cent jump in fourth-quarter earnings to US$1.7 billion S$2.4 billion).

Other retailers to gain included Gap, up 2.3 per cent, Best Buy, up 1.7 per cent and Target, up 0.6 per cent.

Petroleum-linked shares advanced on higher oil prices, with Chevron climbing 1.3 per cent, Devon Energy 2.1 per cent and Transocean 2.4 per cent.

Yahoo rose 0.9 percent and Verizon 0.5 per cent after they announced a US$350 million reduction in the price of Yahoo’s core Internet business in the sale to Verizon following a pair of major data breaches of Yahoo.

Unilever lost 7.5 per cent and Kraft Heinz fell 1.8 per cent in the first session since Kraft Heinz withdrew its bid for the Unilever over the weekend.

Another large food company, Mondelez International, jumped 5.8 per cent as it launched a new “Vea” brand of crisps and bars with no artificial ingredients or GMOs.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen shot up 19.1 per cent after agreeing to be acquired by Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Tim Horton’s, for US$1.8 billion. Restaurant Brands gained 7 per cent.