DOW AT ALL-TIME HIGH, LIFTED BY RALLY IN WAL-MART SHARES

NEW YORK – The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high yesterday, helped by a surge in Wal-Mart Stores, while Amazon and Facebook lost ground and investors focused on upcoming quarterly reports.

Wal-Mart jumped 4.47 per cent to a two-year high after forecasting US online sales would rise by about 40 per cent in the next fiscal year and unveiling a US$20(RM84.6)-billion share buyback.

That helped the S&P 500 consumer staples index jump 0.99 per cent, although gains in that sector were limited by P&G, which dropped 0.54 per cent after activist investor Nelson Peltz unexpectedly failed in his bid to win a board seat.

Third-quarter corporate reporting season kicks into high gear tomorrow with results from JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup. With the S&P 500 up 14 per cent in 2017, investors are betting on strong earnings growth across the S&P 500.

Wall Street has mostly shrugged off recent sabre-rattling between the United States and North Korea, as well as a lack of progress by President Donald Trump in delivering promised corporate tax cuts.

“The only fear in this market is the fear of missing out,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. “But things can change quickly. There’s stuff out there, like North Korea. You still have to be cautious.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.31 per cent to 22,830.68 points, a record-high close. It is up 15.5 per cent in 2017.

The S&P 500 gained 0.23 per cent to 2,550.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.11 per cent to 6,587.25.

The tech index, the best performing among the 11 major S&P sectors this year, was mostly unchanged, with Facebook falling 0.53 per cent and Nvidia adding 1.91 per cent after unveiling chips for autonomous vehicles, bringing its gain over the past year to 182 per cent.

American Airlines jumped 4.80 per cent and United Continental soared 4.67 per cent after the two airlines gave encouraging third-quarter forecasts. Delta, which reports today, rose 1.85 per cent.

Energy stocks got a boost from a near 2-per-cent rise in oil prices supported by Saudi Arabian export cuts in November and comments from Opec and trading companies that the market is rebalancing after years of oversupply.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.90-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.58-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, well below the 6.1 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

— Reuters

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