US stocks finish at records for fifth straight day

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks jumped to record closes again on Wednesday (Feb 15) on fresh assurances that President Donald Trump intends to press ahead with tax cuts soon.

For the fifth straight day, the three major US equity indices ended at all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.5 per cent to 20,611.86.

The S&P 500 also rose 0.5 per cent to 2,349.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.6 per cent to 5,819.44.

US stocks have been on a tear since last week when Trump vowed to release details of his promised tax cut plan within two to three weeks.

On Wednesday, Trump told a White House meeting of retailers he would release specifics on the plan in the “not-too-distant future,” and it will be “good and simpler.”

“It feels like investors might get the pro-growth part of the platform,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich said, adding that questions about Trump’s connections to Russia so far are not rattling investors.

Analysts also said January data showing higher consumer inflation and retail sales helped to boost stocks.

Sectors with strong gains included financials, with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo all winning more than one percent.

Pharmaceuticals also outperformed: Pfizer gained 2.3 per cent, Gilead Sciences 3.3 per cent and Mylan 4.2 per cent.

P&G jumped 3.7 per cent on news that activist investor Trian Fund Management led by Nelson Peltz holds 6.4 million shares worth US$575 million (S$815 million) in the consumer products giant, according to a securities filing.

Some news reports said Trian has added to the stake since the filing deadline and now holds more than US$3 billion in shares. Trian is known for pushing companies to reorganise businesses and return funds to shareholders.

Insurer American International Group slumped 9 per cent after reporting a US$3 billion loss in the fourth quarter.