A surprisingly strong report card on the US economy has helped power the benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes to record high closes, capping a week of gains for stocks that came largely on the back of resilient corporate profits.
While Intel Corp was the biggest drag on the day after it gave a bleak outlook, Amazon.com’s results provided the biggest boost and Walt Disney also offered support as it basked in strong box office numbers.
After staying close to flat for much of the day on Friday the S&P, Nasdaq and the Dow gained ground in the last hour of trading to register their second record closes for the week. The S&P’s peak for the day was a point below its intraday record.
Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey, said the GDP number was a positive for the market, and investors were satisfied with earnings despite some negative surprises.
“There’s a lot of momentum buying. And with the thought that new highs are likely, there is continued optimism.” said Meckler, adding that the ongoing equity rally has “dragged more believers into it, and it’s sort of self-fulfilling.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 81.25 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 26,543.33, the S&P 500 gained 13.71 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 2,939.88 and the Nasdaq Composite added 27.72 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 8,146.40.
For the week, the S&P rose 1.2 per cent, while the Dow lost 0.06 per cent, and the Nasdaq gained 1.86 per cent.
After a late 2018 sell-off, stocks have rallied this year in large part due to a more dovish stance from the Federal Reserve as well as hopes of a US-China trade resolution.
Before the market open, US Commerce Department data showed gross domestic product rising faster than expected due to high inventories while consumer and business spending slowed sharply, and homebuilding investment contracted for a fifth straight quarter.
“The economy’s not going off a cliff. Some of the numbers were a little soft but everything that could have gone wrong this week didn’t,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.
“Earnings season has been mixed but it’s been a net positive,” said Battle. “The theatre now pivots from earnings season to the Fed meeting next week.”
The US Federal Reserve meeting is due to start on Tuesday.
The S&P’s biggest boost on Friday was from the consumer discretionary sector, which rose 0.9 per cent.
Its biggest support was from Amazon.com Inc, which rose 2.5 per cent after the e-commerce giant’s quarterly profit doubled and beat Wall Street estimates though its second quarter guidance was lower than expectations.
Also Ford Motor Co surged 10.7 per cent and was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P after the automaker posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings largely due to strong pickup truck sales in its core US market.