S&P 500 ends less than 1 point below record closing high
US stocks rose today and the S&P 500 hit a record intraday high, helped by gains in health insurers' shares and optimism about merger activity.
The Nasdaq reached a 14-year high, though all three indexes closed off their highs for the session. The S&P 500 finished less than a point away from its record closing high of 1,848.38.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 103.84 points or 0.64 percent, to close at 16,207.14. The S&P 500 gained 11.36 points or 0.62 percent, to end at 1,847.61, after rising to an intraday record of 1,858.71.
The Nasdaq Composite added 29.558 points or 0.69 percent, to finish at 4,292.968.Demand for Spanish equities helped European shares to six-year highs, but weaker-than-expected results from HSBC and a disappointing outlook from Volkswagen capped the gains.
Spanish stocks rose 1.2 percent after Moody's raised Spain's sovereign debt rating one notch to Baa2 with a "positive" outlook. Sentiment was also lifted by data that showed German business morale rose in February to its highest level since July 2011.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed up 0.6 percent at 1,351.65 points, the highest closing price since May 2008. The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index finished up 0.8 percent at 3,157.31 points.
Japan's Nikkei average eased from a three-week high in an erratic session as a firmer yen and weak Asian markets triggered profit-taking following recent sharp gains.
The benchmark Nikkei closed down 0.2 percent at 14,837.68, after surging 2.9 percent on Friday.