Nasdaq ends at record high on US data, tax cut hopes


NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks rose on Tuesday (Oct 31), with the Nasdaq closing at a fresh record, following strong US data and ahead of the release of a US tax cut proposal in Congress.

President Donald Trump wants lawmakers to pass the long-anticipated tax cut plan, which allows for about US$1.5 trillion (S$2 trillion) in tax cuts, by the end of the year.

Prospects for lower US taxes have helped Wall Street to numerous records this year, but the plan still faces a long haul in Congress.

Data releases showed US consumer confidence hit a 17-year high in October, while sales of single-family homes spiked in September, hitting their highest level in a decade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.1 per cent at 23,377.24.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.1 per cent to 2,575.26, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 0.4 per cent to 6,727.67, a new all-time high.

Analysts are also looking ahead to a policy announcement Wednesday from the Federal Reserve following a two-day meeting. While the Fed is expected to keep monetary policy unchanged, the announcement will be scrutinized for the likelihood of a December interest rate increase.

Key gainers in the Nasdaq included Apple, which rose 1.4 percent ahead of an eagerly anticipated launch of its new iPhone, and Tesla Motors, which gained 3.6 per cent ahead of its earnings release Wednesday.

Cereal company Kellogg shot up 6.2 per cent after third-quarter net income edged higher to US$297 million. Chief executive John Bryant said sales were boosted by direct-store deliveries, and added that the company was on track to fulfill its 2017 targets.

Pfizer dropped 0.3 per cent despite reporting that third-quarter net income more than doubled to US$2.8 billion. Goldman Sachs said in a note that sales of some of the pharmaceutical giant's most important drugs came in below expectations.

Under Armour plunged 21.8 per cent after reporting third-quarter earnings fell 57.7 per cent to US$54.2 million on sharply lower North American revenues.