Financial Markets: Stocks continue to soar; Dow hits record territory

Financial Markets: Stocks continue to soar; Dow hits record territory

Two major U.S. stock indexes set fresh record closing highs on investors' optimism about big banks' second-quarter earnings, while European shares also rose and oil prices rebounded from the previous session's bruising losses.

Sectors that investors tend to favor when they're nervous, including utilities, phone companies and makers of consumer staples, all fell as investors moved money out of lower-risk assets.

Two major United States stock indexes set fresh intraday record highs on Thursday on investors' rosy outlook for big banks' second-quarter earnings, while European shares also rose and oil prices rebounded from the previous session's bruising losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 24.45 points, or 0.13 percent, to 18,372.12; the S&P 500 ticked up 0.29 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,152.43 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 17.09 points, or 0.34 percent, to 5,005.73. The S&P 500 .SPX ended up 11.32 points, or 0.53 percent, at 2,163.75.

Buoyed by a rise in afternoon trading, stocks reached record levels on Tuesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average surpassed the previous high that was set just over a year ago.

The British pound slipped 0.3 percent to $1.3115 in early Thursday trade after having risen to this week's high of $1.3340 on Wednesday as attention shifted toward the Bank of England and away from the political picture in Britain.

The Dow rose 120.74 points, or 0.7%, to 18,347.67.

The S&P 500 climbed 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,152. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index surged 0.54%, while China's Shanghai Composite Index is trading 0.32% higher. US crude CLc1 was last up 1.25 percent at $45.31 per barrel.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands in USA exchanges, compared with the 7.8 billion daily average over the past 20 sessions.

In a separate report, the department said that the Producer Price Index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.5 percent in June, seasonally adjusted, beating market estimates.

Significant strength was also visible among electronic storage stocks, as reflected by the 4.6 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Disk Drive Index.

That optimism spilled over into Wednesday, with the S&P setting a new record of 2,156.45 and the Dow hitting 18,390.16.

"We saw a significant beat from JPMorgan and that's helping the psychology of the market", said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in NY.

The S&P 500 is now trading at 17.3 times forward earnings, compared with its 10-year average of 14.7, according to StarMine data. In economics news, U.S. import prices for June rose 0.2% and export prices jumped 0.8%.

Benchmark 10-year US Treasury yields hit a almost three-week high of 1.551%, partly on US data showing rising inflation. The euro rose to $1.1131 from $1.1110 and the dollar rose to 106.20 yen from 105.26 yen. Brent crude, a standard for global oil prices, rose $1.11 to close at $47.37 a barrel in London.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.55 percent.

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