Tuesday, November 21, 2017

S&P 500 closes above 1,700 points for first time

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW YORK — Stocks roared back to record highs on Thursday, driven by good news on the economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Russell 2000 index set all-time highs. The S&P broke through the 1,700 mark for the first time. The Nasdaq hit its highest level since September 2000.

The gains were driven by a steady flow of encouraging reports on the global economy.

Overnight, a positive read on China's manufacturing helped shore up Asian markets. An hour before U.S. trading started, the government reported that the number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week fell sharply. At midmorning, a trade group said U.S. factories revved up production last month. And while corporate earnings news after the market closed Wednesday and throughout Thursday brought both winners and losers, investors were able to find enough reports that they liked, including those from CBS, MetLife and Yelp.

"It's just a lot of things adding up," said Russell Croft, portfolio manager of the Croft Value Fund in Baltimore. "It's hard to put your finger on why exactly, but basically it's a bunch of pretty good data points coming together to make a very good day."

Overall, analysts said, the news was good but not overwhelmingly so. Enough to suggest that the economy is improving but not enough to prompt the Federal Reserve to withdraw its economic stimulus programs.

Earnings results covered a wide range. Boston Beer, which makes Samuel Adams, and St. Petersburg-based home shopping network operator HSN rose after beating analysts' estimates for earnings and revenue. Kellogg, health insurer Cigna and cosmetics maker Avon were down after beating earnings predictions but missing on revenue.

It's becoming a familiar template this year. Stock indexes have been setting record highs since April even as the underlying economy is often described as improving but hardly surging.

While layoffs are steadily declining, companies aren't hiring as quickly as they did before the financial crisis and Great Recession. The economy is growing but not fast enough to drive significant job growth. The Commerce Department reported this week that gross domestic product, or GDP, the broadest measure of the economy, grew at a tepid annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter.

"They're not great numbers, but they're positive and they're continuing to grow," said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City. "That's about all the market needs to hear."

Because the stock market often looks ahead six to nine months, it's not unusual for stock indexes to be ahead of economic indicators, when the economy is improving or worsening. Right now, stock investors may be anticipating a stronger economy and better earnings next year.

Among Thursday's stock index records: The S&P 500 index rose 21.14 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,706.87. The Dow rose 128.48 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,628.02. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks rose 14.62 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,059.88.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 49.37 points, or 1.4 percent, to 3,675.74, in line with the daily gains of other indexes but still far short of its record.

Investors said Thursday that the S&P's reaching 1,700 points might give consumers a psychological boost, but they were hardly crowing about a new era in stocks. Turns out it's quite common for indexes to hit records. Since 1950, the S&P has hit a new high about 7 percent of the time, or an average of about every 15 days, Courtney said. The S&P's last record close was not so long ago, on July 22.

Comments
Bittel wonít resign committeeman post until Dec. 10, after new Democratic chair election

Bittel wonít resign committeeman post until Dec. 10, after new Democratic chair election

Ousted Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel plans to give up his post as Miami-Dade County’s state committeeman -- but not until after his successor atop the state party is elected.Juan Cuba, chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Ex...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Heartache rekindled for Miami family of dead soldier

Heartache rekindled for Miami family of dead soldier

WASHINGTON – Amid reports that additional remains of Sgt. La David Johnson were found in Niger, Rep. Frederica Wilson said the government must full account for what happened."It is difficult to find the words to describe how dismaying it was to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Strong drops h-word in describing Shaquem Griffin

Strong drops h-word in describing Shaquem Griffin

While saying nothing to purposely fan the flames of the USF-UCF rivalry during his weekly press conference Tuesday, Bulls coach Charlie Strong unintentionally provided fuel for the Knights' best player.He used the h-word when discussing Knights senio...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
USF adjuncts to rally as new survey reveals poverty among Florida professors

USF adjuncts to rally as new survey reveals poverty among Florida professors

On the heels of a new survey underscoring hunger and poverty among Florida professors, adjunct professors at the University of Florida will rally next week as part of their push to unionize.The adjunct professors and their support...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

AP Top News at 2:40 p.m. EST

AP Top News at 2:40 p.m. EST
Updated: 4 minutes ago

Russian figure skating star Medvedeva mending broken foot

World champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva says she may miss the Grand Prix Final in Japan next month because of a broken foot
Updated: 5 minutes ago
The Latest: Conyers acknowledges settling staffer complaint

The Latest: Conyers acknowledges settling staffer complaint

Rep. John Conyers is acknowledging his office has settled a harassment complaint involving a former staffer but denies the allegations against him
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Missouri's Porter Jr. out for season after back surgery

Missouri's Porter Jr. out for season after back surgery

Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing lower back surgery
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Q&A: Donations for victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting

Q&A: Donations for victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting

Millions of dollars in donations have poured in for the victims of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival, leaving local officials and national experts to sort how to fairly and quickly distribute the money
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

Attorneys invoke Shakespeare, Christ in seeking mercy for killer Adam Matos

NEW PORT RICHEY ó It took less than three house for a jury to unanimously convict Adam Matos of four counts of first degree murder last week.Now, the jury must decide whether Matos should be put to death for his crimes ó murdering the mother of his s...
Updated: 12 minutes ago