December 20, 2014
Dow, S&P 500 end at record highs after data
The Dow and the S&P 500 edged up to end at record highs, wrapping up four straight months of gains, after mixed economic data gave investors little reason to rush into stocks.
After the benchmark S&P 500's latest record closing high, its fourth in the last five sessions, gains may be harder to come by until the market's direction becomes more clear. Payrolls data and a European Central Bank meeting will be the major catalysts next week.
US consumer spending fell for the first time in a year in April, but the decline probably will not change expectations for a rebound in growth this quarter. An inflation gauge rose at its quickest pace since November 2012 while business activity in the US Midwest rose in May at its strongest pace since October 2013.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 18.43 points or 0.11 percent, to 16,717.17. The S&P 500 gained 3.54 points or 0.18 percent, to 1,923.57. The Nasdaq Composite fell 5.33 points or 0.13 percent, to 4,242.62.
Today's gain lifted the Dow above its previous record close of 16,715.44 set on May 13.
For the week, the Dow rose 0.7 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent, and the Nasdaq climbed 1.4 percent.
The Dow gained 0.8 percent for May and the S&P 500 rose 2.1 percent, marking the fourth straight month of gains for both indexes. The Nasdaq, up 3.1 percent, scored its first monthly gain in three.
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,523 to 1,485. On the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers by 1,594 to 1,018.
European shares fell, with BNP Paribas leading the market lower after a report saying the US Justice Department was pushing the French bank to pay more than $10 billion to resolve a criminal probe.
BNP fell 5.8 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported the figure late yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter. The probe relates to allegations that the bank evaded US sanctions against Iran and other countries for years. BNP and the Justice Department declined to comment.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.1 percent at 1,377.55 points by 0749 GMT, with analysts saying that investors were also trading cautiously ahead of the next week's crucial policy meeting of the European Central Bank.
Japan's Nikkei stock average snapped a six-day winning streak, its longest winning streak since December, as investors pocketed profits before the weekend. The Nikkei ended 0.3 percent lower at 14,632.38 points.