Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq end at record highs as banks gain

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NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks jumped to fresh records on Tuesday (Sept 12), boosted by financial shares that led a rally on easing fears over North Korea and US hurricanes.

All three major indices finished at new all-time highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 0.3 per cent to 22,118.86, less than a point above the prior peak.

The S&P 500 advanced 0.4 per cent to 2,496.48, its second straight record, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.3 per cent to 6,454.28.

The gains came on the heels of a solid rally Monday after Hurricane Irma caused less damage in Florida than feared, and as anxiety about North Korea's nuclear programme diminished.

Those dynamics were still in play on Tuesday, analysts said.

"You've seen that fear unwind," said David Levy, portfolio manager at Republic Wealth Advisors.

Banks were big beneficiaries of the improved sentiment, with JPMorgan Chase advancing 1.3 per cent and Goldman Sachs 2.2 per cent despite statements from bank executives reporting weakness in the trading business.

Analysts also described relief that September, historically a weak month for stocks, has not so far produced a big pullback.

"Investors with a lot of cash have to put some money to work," Karl Haeling of LBBW. "They can't afford to miss more of the rally."

Apple dipped 0.4 per cent after unveiling a group of new iPhones, including 10th anniversary iPhone X, featuring facial recognition unlocking and other refinements.

DowDuPont advanced 2.6 per cent after confirming it was on target to save US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion) following the completion of its merger.

The chemicals giant also tweaked its plan to restructure into three companies to try to placate some shareholder activists who had criticised the original plan.

Among other Dow companies, Pfizer rose 3.1 per cent and McDonald's lost 3.2 per cent.

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