NEW YORK: Wall Street has continued its rally with record closing highs as the fourth-quarter earnings season kicked off with solid results from banks and robust retail sales drove investor optimism about economic growth.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both registered their eighth record closing highs out of the first nine trading days of 2018, while the Dow boasted its sixth closing high of the year.

JPMorgan, the biggest US lender by assets, said a US tax overhaul would help future profits by reducing its tax bill and stimulating more business. The bank’s shares rose 1.7 per cent.

Investors were also hopeful 2018 financial forecasts from US companies would beat Wall Street estimates as many analysts may not have tax savings fully reflected in their models as the tax bill was signed into law so late in December.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.89 per cent, to 25,803.19, the S&P 500 gained 0.67 per cent, to 2,786.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.68 per cent, to 7,261.06.

For the week, the S&P rose 1.6 per cent, compared with the Dow’s two-per cent rise and a 1.8-per cent advance in the Nasdaq.

LONDON: Dealmaking activity drove sharp share price moves in Europe on Friday with British engineer GKN leaping after it rejected an unsolicited offer from rival Melrose.

A gain of over 26 per cent in GKN and strength in the auto sector led a broad-based rally, helping the pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark end 0.3 per cent higher following losses in the previous two sessions.

A rise in the euro on news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats had agreed a blueprint for formal coalition negotiations held back gains but the German talks had little other impact.

Germany’s DAX gained as much as 0.3 per cent with most of Europe following suit but the strength of the euro. It closed up 0.32 per cent at 13,245.03.

Britain’s top share index held onto record highs, supported by a sharp rise in British engineering group GKN, despite sterling surging on the back of a report that Spain and the Netherlands were open to a softer Brexit.

The FTSE 100 benchmark was up 0.20 per cent at 7,778.64 points at its close.

TOKYO: Asian stocks resumed their ascent on Friday, supported by US earnings optimism and higher oil prices.

MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.66 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.24 per cent at 23,653.82.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended trading at a record high, after rising for 14 consecutive days in the longest ever winning streak that reflects sustained investor optimism even after a bumper 2017.

Market sentiment was buoyed by signs of concerted global economic recovery, as well as a resurgence in index heavyweight Tencent, which jumped about 3 per cent.

The Hang Seng index closed up 0.94 per cent at 31,412.54. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 1.41 per cent to 12,468.93.

China’s main Shanghai Composite index closed up 0.10 per cent at 3,428.94 points while its blue-chip CSI300 index ended up 0.46 per cent at 4225.00.

WELLINGTON: The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 0.1 per cent, to 8242.35.