Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq end at records on lower Iran worries

US stocks registered record high closes on Thursday (January 9) as optimism about a US-China trade deal firmed and as Apple and other market heavyweights posted strong gains.
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, Jan 8, 2020.
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, Jan 8, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks surged to fresh records on Thursday (Jan 9) as investors took heart that a US-Iran conflict is not escalating and a trade deal with China is likely to be signed.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.7 per cent at 28,956.90 - just shy of the 29,000-point milestone - while the broader S&P 500 gained 0.7 per cent, closing at 3,274.70.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose a stronger 0.8 per cent to end at 9,203.43.

US stocks won solid gains for the second straight session on rising confidence that the standoff between Tehran and Washington will not significantly impact the economy.

"Markets have learned not to overreact to developments in the Middle East," Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services told AFP.

"What animates investors is fear of missing out on a higher stock market. Nobody wants to be the first sell or take profits."

Further boosting sentiment, China said that Vice-Premier Liu He will travel to Washington next week to sign the "phase one" deal with the United States that has lowered trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

Gains were broad-based, with the technology, financial and energy sectors registering especially large gains.

Boeing advanced 1.5 per cent as focus shifted away from the planemaker in Wednesday's fatal crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran.

World leaders said Thursday intelligence from multiple sources suggested the plane was mistakenly shot down by Iran itself.

Bed, Bath & Beyond dropped 19.2 per cent after reporting a US$38.6 million loss for the quarter ending Nov 30, which includes some of the holiday-shopping season.

The home ware retailer, which has shaken up its leadership under new chief executive Mark Tritton, also said its profitability would be "pressured" in the fourth quarter.

Retailers Kohl's and JC Penney also fell following holiday sales updates, while L Brands gained.

Investors are looking ahead to Friday's government jobs report. Analysts expect the US added 160,000 jobs in December and that unemployment held steady at 3.5 per cent.