S&P 500 extends record run, spurred by Google’s surge and Fed stimulus - The Buffalo News

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S&P 500 extends record run, spurred by Google’s surge and Fed stimulus

Stocks rose Friday, giving the Standard & Poor’s 500 its best weekly gain since July, as results from Google Inc. topped estimates and speculation grew that the Federal Reserve will delay cutting monetary stimulus.

General Electric Co. added 3.5 percent as demand for industrial products boosted earnings. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. surged 16 percent to a record as customer traffic rose. UnitedHealth Group Inc. slumped 3.7 percent, extending Thursday’s 5.1 percent slide after the insurer reported sales that fell short of analyst estimates.

The S&P 500 added 0.7 percent to 1,744.50, extending an all-time high. The gauge has rallied 2.4 in the past five days, for its biggest weekly advance since July 12. The Dow Jones industrial average added 28 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,399.65. About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 12 percent higher the three-month average.

“People are looking at earnings but they’re also looking at what they think is going to happen next,” Sarah Hunt, an associate fund manager and analyst who helps oversee $4.5 billion at Alpine Woods Capital Investors LLC, said in a phone interview. “After this political problem no one is expecting this to happen again in January. People are just looking for a little bit of a better economic backdrop to continue what’s been a pretty decent environment for stocks.”

The S&P 500 closed Thursday at a record of 1,733.15 after Congress ended the standoff over the federal budget and borrowing authority. The 16-day government shutdown government reduced growth by 0.3 percentage point this quarter, economists said in a Bloomberg News survey.

The slower growth and delayed reporting of economic data will prevent Fed policy makers from paring the monthly pace of asset buying until their March 18-19 meeting, according to the median of 40 responses by economists in the survey. Economists had expected the central bank to reduce purchases to $80 billion last month, according to a Bloomberg survey before the September meeting.

The Fed stimulus has helped propel the S&P 500 up by more than 150 percent from its March 2009 low. The gauge has surged 22 percent this year and jumped to its previous intraday record of 1,729.86 on Sept. 19, a day after the central bank unexpectedly delayed tapering.

Investors will have to wait until Monday to get the next snapshot of economic activity, when data on sales of existing homes is released. The September U.S. jobs report, originally scheduled to be released on Oct. 4, will be issued on Tuesday. The report was delayed by the partial shutdown. October employment data will come out on Nov. 8, rather than Nov. 1.

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