Dow, S&P 500 at records after upbeat Fed report

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow and S&P 500 bolted to fresh record highs on Wednesday after a Federal Reserve report showed the US economy was growing amid widespread optimism about the outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 33.07 points (0.18 per cent) to 17,912.62, its second straight record close, while the S&P 500 gained 7.78 (0.38 per cent) at 2,074.33, also a record.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 18.66 (0.39 per cent) at 4,774.47.

The Fed's Beige Book, a collection of anecdotal information on current economic conditions, said that "a number" of the central bank's 12 districts reported contacts "remained optimistic about the outlook for future economic activity."

For the first time in more than a year, the Fed dropped its "modest" and moderate" descriptions of overall growth, saying simply that reports suggest "that national economic activity continued to expand" in the last two months.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said the tone of the latest Beige Book was significantly more enthusiastic than in previous versions.

"It appeared to me that they ramped up their rhetoric," Ablin said. "The Fed really saw a lot of good things happening on a lot of different fronts."

Ablin said some investors may have also bought equities in anticipation of Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank, which has hinted it could implement additional stimulus.

Banking stocks Citigroup and Dow member JPMorgan Chase gained 1.6 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively. Bank of America rose 1.1 per cent.

Some oil-related stocks also gained. ExxonMobil advanced 0.8 per cent, Schlumberger rose 1.8 per cent and ConocoPhillips jumped 2.3 per cent.

Abercrombie & Fitch, a youth-oriented apparel retailer, gained 3.5 per cent as third-quarter earnings of 42 cents per share exceeded analyst expectations by a cent.

However, the company alluded to "a very challenging environment for young apparel" and warned that it expects conditions "to remain difficult" throughout the fourth quarter.

Puma Biotechnology plummeted 12.2 per cent after it pushed back the time frame for seeking regulatory approval for a new drug it is developing to treat early-stage breast cancer.

Following talks with the US Food and Drug Administration, Puma expects to file in the first quarter of 2016 instead of the first half of 2015.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.29 per cent, while the 30-year dipped to 2.99 per cent from 3.00 per cent Monday.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.