Dow ends at record high as Wal-Mart surges on forecast

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NEW YORK (AFP) - An upbeat forecast from Wal-Mart Stores lifted the Dow to a fresh record on Tuesday (Oct 10) as US stocks finished modestly higher ahead of major earnings reports.

Wal-Mart surged 4.5 per cent after projecting fiscal 2019 sales would rise at or above three percent following a deeper push into e-commerce. The retail giant also announced a US$20 billion (S$27 billion) share repurchase programme.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 per cent to 22,830.68, about 55 points above the record set last week.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent to 2,550.64, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 per cent to 6,587.25.

Investor sentiment remains strong amid expectations of a solid third-quarter reporting season that begins in earnest this week with results from JPMorgan Chase, Delta Air Lines and others.

Investors are also excited about the prospects of President Donald Trump's tax cut proposal, although some press reports have emphasised that the plan faces a long road to passage.

The International Monetary Fund bumped up its forecast of US growth for both 2017 and 2018, but cautioned that growth would slow absent progress on growth-oriented economic policies from Washington.

Airlines rose solidly following financial updates from American Airlines and United Continental that suggested that the hit from cancelled flights due to third-quarter hurricanes was not as great as feared. Both carriers rose more than 4 per cent.

Procter & Gamble dipped 0.5 per cent after the consumer products giant claimed a narrow victory in its quest to block activist investor Nelson Peltz from its board of directors. Citing the closeness of the vote, Peltz refused to concede defeat and said he would wait until final results are certified.

Pfizer advanced 0.8 per cent after announcing that it was considering a possible sales of its consumer healthcare division, which makes Advil, ChapStick and other leading over-the-counter products.

Honeywell International dipped 0.2 per cent after announcing plans to spin off divisions that focus on home heating and turbocharger transportation systems.

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