NEW YORK: US stocks edged up on Wednesday, with the Dow rising for the ninth straight session to another record, buoyed by surprisingly strong retail sales that suggested the economy is gaining momentum.
The Dow Jones industrial average’s nine-day winning streak is the longest consecutive run since November 1996.
But trading volume was light. Moves have been muted in recent days as investors consolidate positions after a strong run-up in the first three months of the year. Still, weakness in stocks has been met with buying, which helped propel the market’s advance.
The broader S&P 500 is within striking distance of its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 and about 1 percent away from all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 - both set in 2007.
"I think we will soon see the S&P at all-time high levels. I don’t think the market has topped yet, and there is still strength to move the market higher," said Ari Wald, technical strategist at C&Co/PrinceRidge in New York.
"Will we see a correction of 10 per cent or so soon? Not imminently. We have not seen a divergence of behavior yet where participants become more selective on which stocks to buy."
International Business Machine and Boeing Co were the Dow’s top two gainers. IBM shot up 0.7 per cent to US$212.06. Boeing also jumped 0.7 per cent - to US$84.75 at the close.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 5.22 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 14,455.28, another record closing high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 2.04 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 1,554.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 2.80 points, or 0.09 per cent, to end at 3,245.12.
Signs of strength in the economy and the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy have helped U.S. equities accelerate their advance. The blue-chip Dow is up 10.3 per cent for the year and the benchmark S&P 500 index has gained 9 per cent.
Wednesday’s retail sales report reinforced the view that the US economy has momentum, even with the obstacles the recovery is facing. Sales increased 1.1 per cent in February, the largest increase since September.
Investors had been looking for signs of any impact on spending from stubbornly high unemployment and a higher payroll tax that went into effect at the start of the year.
The Morgan Stanley retail index gained 0.7 per cent.
Coach shares rose 1.8 per cent to US$49.67 after Citigroup raised its rating on the luxury leather goods company’s stock to 'buy' from 'neutral.' Earlier, the stock had risen as high as US$50.09 - up 2.6 per cent from Tuesday’s close.
Walgreen jumped 4.2 per cent to US$42.78 after UBS raised its rating to a 'buy' from 'neutral', and lifted its price target to US$48 from US$41 on the stock of the largest US drugstore chain.
But Express Inc shares slid 3.2 per cent to US$18.25 after the apparel retailer posted fourth-quarter earnings and said it was off to a slow start in the first quarter.
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals shares lost 37.3 per cent to US$7.79 after the biotechnology company forecast full-year sales well below analysts’ estimates.
Volume was below average, with roughly 5.5 billion shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.-- Reuters