Stock indexes extend their climb into record heights

Stock indexes extend their climb into record heights
The New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)

Wall Street capped a week of milestones Friday with a rally that pushed the major stock indexes to all-time highs for the second day in a row.

Small-company stocks did even better than larger ones, nudging the Russell 2000 index to a record high for the first time since December.


Miners and other raw materials companies led the gainers. Rising crude oil prices also gave energy companies a big boost. Consumer goods stocks were essentially flat.

Strong company earnings and investor optimism over the Trump administration's promises of tax cuts, less government regulation and other policies helped fuel the market's gains much of the week. News that OPEC is largely adhering to a recent pact to cut crude oil production also has helped lift markets. The daily market moves have been mostly small, but big enough to push indexes to new heights.

“We had a drought for a very, very long time last year where we went almost a year and a half without hitting a new high, which was the longest time ever,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “Now we're back to what I would say is more of a typical move, where you get record highs consistently.”

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 96.97 points, or 0.5%, to 20,269.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 8.23 points, or 0.4%, to 2,316.10. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 18.95 points, or 0.3%, to 5,734.13. All told, the Nasdaq closed at a record high four times this week, as well as last Friday.

The Russell 2000 jumped 10.32 points, or 0.8%, to 1,388.84.

Trading got off to a good start early Friday, as investors sized up the latest batch of company earnings. Some 70% of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported quarterly results.

Earnings are on track to mark the second consecutive quarter of growth after a five-quarter losing streak.

Investors also are eying Washington for signs the Trump administration will deliver on the promised business-friendly policy proposals that helped drive a market rally last fall, including slashing government regulations and taxes.

"The market has been pretty generous ever since the election in moving in anticipation of what might come," Frederick said. "The question is at what point does the market expect to see things actually happen versus just promises of action. That's the tricky part."

Investors bid up shares in companies that turned in better earnings or outlooks than Wall Street expected, including Manhattan Beach footwear company Skechers, Los Angeles real estate investment company CBRE Group and Santa Monica video game publisher Activision Blizzard.

Skechers shares soared 19.3% to $27.78. CBRE Group climbed 7.7% to $34. Activision Blizzard was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500: The maker of "Call of Duty," "Candy Crush" and other video games jumped 18.9% to $47.23.

Other companies' quarterly report cards failed to impress.

Yelp skidded 13.6% to $35.83 after the San Francisco online reviews company's revenue forecasts disappointed Wall Street.

Cerner slumped 4.4% to $51.50 after the healthcare information technology company lowered its earnings and revenue guidance for the year. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500.

Soaring copper prices gave gold and copper miner Freeport-McMoRan a lift. It rose 2.7% to $15.80.

Investors also welcomed Sears' huge cost-savings initiative. The troubled department store chain said Friday it will slash at least $1 billion a year in costs by selling stores, cutting jobs or selling some of its well-known brands. The stock leaped 25.6% to $6.96.

In deal news, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. rose 5.6% to $87.72 after the baby formula-maker agreed to be bought by British household products company Reckitt Benckiser for $90 a share, or $16.6 billion.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 86 cents, or 1.6%, to $53.86 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, rose $1.07, or 1.9%, to $56.70 a barrel.

Natural gas futures fell 11 cents, or 3.4%, to $3.03 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon, and heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.67 a gallon.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed mostly higher. Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 0.4%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.2%. France's CAC 40 was flat. Greece's stock market gained 2.5% as its creditors met to find a way to ease concerns about the future of its bailout program.

In Asia, investors welcomed strong January trade data from China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2%, and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5%. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index surged 2.5% as the yen weakened against the dollar, lifting shares of exporters. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1%.

The dollar strengthened to 113.41 yen from 113.33 yen. The euro weakened to $1.0631 from $1.0658.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.41% from 2.40%.

Gold fell 70 cents to $1,234.40 an ounce. Silver rose 19 cents to $17.93 an ounce. Copper rose 11 cents, or 4.3%, to $2.77 a pound.



2:50 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

11:50 a.m.: This article was updated with market prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 7 a.m.