Dow closes in on 22,000 milestone as it ends on record-high


NEW YORK (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - The Dow surged to its fifth straight record close on Tuesday (Aug 1) amid bullish investor sentiment following strong corporate earnings and ahead of Apple’s much-anticipated quarterly report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.3 per cent to 21,963.92, after getting to within 10 points of hitting 22,000 for the first time.

Dow members Chevron, JPMorgan Chase and Verizon, all of which reported strong results, each gained at least one per cent. Apple, which reports after the market closes Tuesday, advanced 0.9 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 won 0.2 per cent to end at 2,476.35, as did the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index which closed at 6,362.94.

A break above 22,000 would the the third round-number milestone for the Dow this year. The gauge sailed past 20,000 on Jan. 25 and crossed 21,000 about a month later. It climbed for a sixth day Tuesday, adding 0.3 percent to 21,963.03.

The Dow’s latest rally toward a round-number milestone is being fueled by a series of earnings-fomented share ignitions at companies from Boeing to Visa.

Through July 28, companies in the S&P 500 earned 9.1 per cent more in the second quarter compared with the year-ago period, according to Factset.

Helped by the index’s old-fashioned methodology that apportions greater weight to higher-priced stocks, Boeing and Visa alone accounted for more than half of the Dow's 614-point jump since the start of July. UnitedHealth Group, Caterpillar, and Chevron rounded out the top five, contributing an additional 135 points.

The rally drove the Dow toward 22,000 for the first time as the century-old gauge heads toward an eighth consecutive quarter of gains, the longest winning streak since 1997. Boeing’s 21 per cent surge amid its better-than-expected cash flow has exerted an outsize influence, with the stock’s contribution running six times its representation in the Dow.

Among other biggest gainers, Visa has jumped more than 7 per cent this quarter as earnings topped analysts’ estimates and the credit-card company boosted its 2017 earnings and revenue targets. UnitedHealth is up almost 4 per cent as the biggest US health insurer reported results showing expanded membership and raised its full-year guidance.

US economic data has been mixed, however. A key measure of inflation was flat in June for the second straight month, while the annual rate declined.

Manufacturing activity continued to expand in July, but at a slightly slower pace than in June, according to the Institute for Supply Management.