S&P, Nasdaq open at record levels after Fed minutes

The U.S. S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes hit record highs, with the benchmark S&P index touching 2,417.72, after retailers such as PVH and Sears surged on strong results.

Sentiment also got a boost after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting showed policymakers expected the economy to pick up momentum and an interest rate hike would come sooner rather than later. The S&P consumer discretionary index closed up almost 1 per cent.

Tommy Hilfiger-owner PVH rose 5.5 percent and Guess jumped almost 14 percent after issuing strong results and forecasts. Sears was up about 14 percent after posting its first quarterly profit in almost two years.

Analysts also said the S&P 500 being able to break through and stay above the 2,400 level for the third straight session has also provided technical support.

"The lack of fear, the complacency is supporting the market", said Jimmy Chang, chief investment strategist at Rockefeller & Co in NY.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 70.53 points, or 0.3%, to 21,082.95, closing some 45 points below its record high.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed down 8.76 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 15,410.73. The index hit an all-time high of 6,202.50.

May 25 The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were in record territory in late morning trading on Thursday, buoyed by strong earnings from the embattled retailer sector. The stock hit a record of $999, on the brink of breaking through $1,000 for the first time ever.

Limiting gains, the S&P energy index was down 1.8 per cent following a almost 5-per cent drop in crude oil prices.

US stocks scaled fresh highs on Thursday after strong earnings reports from retailers, outpacing European shares which closed little changed, while oil prices plunged after top oil producers extended output cuts for a shorter period than expected.

But, policymakers agreed they should hold off on raising rates until it was clear a recent slowdown in the USA economy was temporary.

"The minutes sort of made it clear that the Fed wasn't going to be reducing its balance sheet anytime real soon, and the response was negative for the United States dollar", said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in NY.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,504 to 1,331.

That was reinforced by the jobless claims data, which showed that claims rose less than expected last week and the four-week moving average of claims fell to a 44-year low.

  • Zachary Reyes