Dow, S&P close at new highs; Exxon Mobil leads Dow

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The Dow and the S&P 500 hit new highs on Friday for a sixth straight week of gains, as investors continued to take cues from Federal Reserve Chair nominee Janet Yellen, who told a Senate Committee it was too early to end the central bank's stimulus.

Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp led the blue chip Dow index higher. They rose 2.2 per cent to $95.27 a day after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc disclosed a new US$3.45 billion (S$4.3 billion) stake in the second-largest United States (US) company by market value, behind only Apple Inc Both the S&P and Dow capped a fourth straight day of gains and the S&P 500 finished within two points of 1,800, as investor confidence in the market remained high.

"I think there is a general expectation that the market is going to continue to rally for the rest of the year," said Mr Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial, based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

"Retail investors are starting to move back in and I think that's providing a fair amount of support." Toward the end of the year, fund managers who are trailing their benchmarks may help boost stocks as they chase performance.

"I think it's going to be a slow grind up," said Mr Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management, adding that the only thing "that can derail this is some exogenous macroeconomic event that comes out of nowhere."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 85.48 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 15,961.70. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 7.56 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 1,798.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 13.23 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 3,985.97.

A number of big hedge funds disclosed they took positions in ailing department store JC Penney Co, sending its shares up 3.9 per cent to $9.03.

FedEx Corp shares added 1.6 per cent to $138.65 after filings showed Daniel Loeb's Third Point LLC, George Soros'Soros Fund Management LLC and John Paulson's Paulson & Co all took stakes in the company.

Shares of Electronic Arts Inc fell 7.3 per cent to $24.06 a share. Omega Advisors, owned by billionaire Leon Cooperman, said in a Thursday filing it had dissolved its stake of 750,000 shares in the video game publisher.

InterCloud Systems Inc shares surged 271 per cent to $9.46 after the cloud computing and consulting services company said its quarterly revenue rose five-fold to US$16.2 million.

Data showed New York state's manufacturing sector unexpectedly shrank this month while US industrial production fell in October as output at power plants and mines declined.