US stocks have surged, pushing the S&P 500 to its fourth straight record closing high, as investors stayed focused on large-cap momentum stocks that have outperformed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nasdaq also set an all-time closing high, its 39th year-to-date, compared with a total of 31 reached in all of 2019.

The Dow, which remains 4.1 per cent below its pre-pandemic record, and 0.7 per cent off showing a year-to-date gain, posted a more modest advance.

The MSCI world equity index surged past its February high to reach a record peak.

Salesforce.com, a software-as-a-service provider and soon-to-be Dow component, had its shares soar 26.0 per cent following its beat-and-raise earnings report.

Netflix Inc shares had their best day in more than three years, jumping 11.6 per cent.

The stay-at-home favourite has surged 69.2 per cent since the final closing bell of 2019.

Facebook Inc rose 8.2 per cent, giving the S&P 500 its biggest boost.

“Your three highest sectors are all the mega-cap tech and tech-related stocks,” said Joseph Sroka, chief investment officer at NovaPoint in Atlanta.

“So that notion of large-cap tech leading the market is in play today.”

“There’s this confidence that regardless of what happens with COVID, these companies have proven that they’re open for business.”

Energy was the biggest percentage loser among S&P 500 sectors, dropping 2.2 per cent as Hurricane Laura bore down on the Texas-Louisiana coastline, posing the largest threat to US energy assets since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

The coming storm, now a Category 4, prompted crude producers and refiners to shut down their facilities.

Commercial air carrier stocks lost altitude, with the S&P 1500 Airline index dipping 1.8 per cent even after the White House announced US President Donald Trump was weighing an executive action to avoid massive lay-offs in the sector.

The US Federal Reserve is expected to unveil a new framework intended to soften the central bank’s inflation stance, which Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to address during his remarks on Thursday as part of the Kansas City Fed’s virtual Jackson Hole symposium.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83.48 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 28,331.92, the S&P 500 gained 35.11 points, or 1.02 per cent, to 3,478.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 198.59 points, or 1.73 per cent, to 11,665.06.

Communications services led the 11 major sectors in the S&P in percentage gains.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co rose 3.6 per cent after its full-year profit outlook beat expectations while tax software firm Intuit Inc advanced 1.8 per cent on a 17 per cent rise in quarterly revenue.

Apparel retailer Nordstrom Inc tumbled 5.5 per cent following its bigger-than-expected quarterly losses after being forced by mandated lockdowns to shutter its stores.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.34-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 38 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 88 new highs and 8 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 8.55 billion shares compared with the 9.42 billion average over the last 20 trading days.