Wall Street up, S&P 500 sets record close on signs of healthier economy
US stocks ended higher today, with the S&P 500 at a record after a flurry of positive economic data, as investors hoped for signs from an annual meeting of central bankers that interest-rate hikes are not imminent.
The S&P 500 broke two records during today's session, climbing past its previous intraday all-time high of 1,991.39 and ending above its previous record close of 1,987.98. Both had been set on July 24. Investors are anticipating that the benchmark index will touch the 2,000 level, which it has yet to breach.
Market participants refrained from making big bets before Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's speech on Friday at a policymakers' meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which could provide clues on the timing of an interest-rate hike.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 60.36 points, or 0.36 percent, to 17,039.49. The S&P 500 gained 5.86 points, or 0.29 percent, to end at 1,992.37. The Nasdaq Composite added 5.62 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,532.10.
The benchmark S&P 500's intraday record high was 1,994.76.
European stocks also ended higher, extending their sharp two-week rebound after better-than-expected German private sector growth figures which reassured investors about the outlook for Europe's biggest economy following a soft patch.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended 0.7 percent higher at 1,355.09 points, reaching a level not seen since late July.
Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for Germany -- which tracks growth in the manufacturing and service sectors that make up more than two-thirds of the economy -- came at 54.9 for August, down from 55.7 in July but still well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.
Last week, GDP data showed Germany's economy suffered a surprise contraction -- its first in more than a year -- in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Japanese stocks rose to a three-week high, posting gains for the ninth consecutive day, as a weaker yen shored up exporters after minutes of the US Federal Reserve's July meeting raised the risk of an earlier rate hike.
The Nikkei share average climbed 0.9 percent to 15,586.20 points, its highest closing level since July 31. The nine-day winning streak was the longest since December.
The broader Topix added 0.9 percent to 1,291.19, and the new JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 0.9 percent to 11,752.54.