Wall Street’s three main indices have closed at record highs as investors grew more optimistic about a coronavirus stimulus bill, helping markets look past signs of economic strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The S&P 500 technology and consumer discretionary indices hit intraday record highs.
A surge in technology outsourcing firm Accenture gave the S&P 500 a major lift.
Top Republicans and Democrats grew closer to agreeing on a fresh round of aid in response to a crisis that has killed nearly 309,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
Many investors saw the passing of new measures to support the economy as imminent after data showed the number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week.
That followed a reading on Wednesday that showed US retail sales falling more than expected in November, as consumer spending remained constrained.
“It’s all about stimulus today and expectations of a pathway to the deal,” said Ryan Giannotto, director of research at GraniteShares in New York City.
Developments on the vaccine front were also lifting the market, with Moderna Inc awaiting US approval for deploying what would be the nation’s second COVID-19 vaccine.
The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 index of smaller companies all closed at their highest levels ever.
The S&P 500 has climbed about 15 per cent in 2020, despite the economic destruction caused by the coronavirus.
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.49 per cent to end at 30,301.79 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.57 per cent to 3,722.43.
The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.84 per cent to 12,764.
“In the very short term, I think we are a little bit over bought here,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
He noted that best-performing sectors like technology were most at risk of a pull back, while some of the “more unloved sectors” like financials and energy were getting fresh attention as investors looked for bargains.
Google-parent Alphabet dipped after a group of 38 US states and territories filed an antitrust complaint accusing Google of trying to extend its search monopoly to dominate smart speakers, televisions and cars.
Accenture jumped after it raised its annual sales forecast and beat quarterly revenue estimates as an extended work-from-home period boosted its digital, cloud and security services.
General Mills Inc rose after it beat second-quarter profit estimates, boosted by sales of its pet foods and baking products.