US stocks end at fresh record peaks; Nasdaq up 0.8 per cent

The S&P 500 closed higher Thursday for the eighth straight session, buoyed by a rally in financial and utility shares.

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks surged to fresh records again on Thursday (Oct 5) amid growing confidence in the US corporate earnings outlook and the prospects of President Donald Trump's tax cut plan.

All three major indices finished at new all-time peaks for the fourth straight session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.5 per cent to 22,775.39.

At the closing bell the broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.6 per cent to 2,552.07, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 0.8 per cent to 6,585.36.

US markets were in the black all day as the bullish momentum that has preceded the heart of third-quarter earnings season showed no sign of weakening.

The latest records followed another round of benign US data that showed the US trade deficit shrank in August on record-high exports and fewer jobless claims last week than expected.

The data came ahead of the closely-watched September jobs report, which is expected to show the impact of major hurricanes that halted hiring in parts of the country. Analysts expect the US added just 75,000 jobs last month, an unusually low number.

If anything, the market's bias will be to go still higher on tomorrow's employment data because weak jobs data will be dismissed as weather-related, while an upside surprise will be seen as another vindication of a stronger economy, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private bank.

"The path of least resistance is still higher," he said.

Ablin attributed much of the market strength in the last week or so to the initial actions by Trump and congressional Republicans on tax cuts and the sense that "a tax plan or stimulus will actually be signed into law."

Large banks were big winners, with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs all winning one percent or more. High-flying tech shares including Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft also posted gains in this range.

Netflix surged 5.4 per cent as it announced plans to increase subscription prices in the US and parts of Europe.