Tech, communications stocks push US indexes to more records

AP – Wall Street capped a milestone-setting week on Friday with a few more as modest gains nudged the major stock indexes to all-time highs.

The benchmark S&P 500 index also notched its second-straight weekly gain.

Technology stocks powered much of the market’s broad gains, along with communication services companies and banks. Energy sector stocks were the only decliners. Bond prices fell, sending yields higher.

Investors welcomed more strong quarterly results from banks. A report showing a December surge in new home construction, meanwhile, provided the latest encouraging snapshot on the United States (US) economy. A solid retail sales report on Thursday revealed consumers are still spending at a healthy pace.

The latest batch of positive corporate earnings reports and economic data helped keep investors in a buying mood after the midweek signing of an initial trade deal by the US and China. Progress on trade has eased fears on Wall Street about the potential for the dispute to escalate further.

“The markets have responded really to one thing and that’s trade headlines, and that continues,” said Nela Richardson, investment strategist at Edward Jones. “But the economic data that underlies some of that momentum, not all of it, is pretty persistent. The fact that we’re seeing housing solidly make a corner turn into health is good for 2020.”

The S&P 500 index rose 12.81 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3,329.62. The benchmark index also set all-time highs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 50.46 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 29,348.10. The Nasdaq added 31.81 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 9,388.94.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 5.58 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,699.64.

Markets in Europe and Asia finished higher.

Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.82 per cent from 1.8 per cent late Thursday.

Financial markets are solidly higher just a few weeks into 2020 as trade disputes quiet down and the economic picture remains bright.

File photo shows trader Gregory Rowe working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AP