bizEDGE New Zealand logo
Story image

While you were sleeping: Fresh S&P 500 record

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index touched a record high, rising above 2,100 for the first time, even as Wall Street's gains were muted by concern about talks between Greece and its international creditors.

In afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.10 percent, the S&P 500 Index increased 0.19 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.14 percent.

The S&P 500 touched a record high 2,101.30. US financial markets were closed for the President's Day public holiday on Monday.

"While there is concern, and it has become in vogue to say that stocks are expensive, it is hard to say what they're expensive relative to," Liam Dalton, president of Axiom Capital Management in New York, told Reuters. "Cash remains abundant and interest rates are low, and we should generally go up in an environment like that."

Gains in shares of Visa, Intel and American Express led the gains in the Dow, up 0.6 percent, 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent respectively.

The latest US economic reports were disappointing, reflecting in part a colder than usual winter for central and eastern states. US homebuilders' confidence unexpectedly fell in February to the lowest level in four months.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index fell to 55 this month, down from 57 in January. Still, the outlook remained positive.

"Overall, builder sentiment remains fairly solid, with this slight downturn largely attributable to the unusually high snow levels across much of the nation," NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Missouri, said in a statement.

Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Empire State's manufacturing index fell to 7.78 this month, below economist estimates for a level of 8, and down from 10 in January.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index finished the day with a 0.1 percent increase from the previous close as negotiations about Greece's financing struggles continued. France's CAC 40 Index eked out a 0.04 percent advance, while the FTSE 100 Index gained 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent.

Greece's Athens Stock Exchange General Index slid 2.5 percent.

Greece's government plans to request an extension of its loan agreement for six months, Reuters reported. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source told Reuters that Athens would request up to a six month extension but the conditions were still under negotiation.

The lack of progress in talks between Greece and its international creditors over its bailout also weighed on commodities including oil, gold and silver.

Even so, Germany offered some good news as the nation's investor confidence climbed to the highest level in a year in February.

The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations increased to 53.0 this month, up from 48.4 in January.