NEW YORK: The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at records Thursday, extending a rally fueled by good earnings, improving economic data and positive coronavirus trends.
The S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent to 3,871.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.2 percent to 13,777.74.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.1 percent at 31,055.86, about 130 points shy of a record.
The records follow data showing a drop in new applications for jobless benefits for the third straight week, the latest in a stream of improving economic data this week.
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, said investors have also been cheered by the drop in new US coronavirus cases and an increase in vaccination rates.
“We clearly are seeing fewer cases and fewer hospitalizations,” Hogan said.
He also cited a calmer market environment with the ebbing of last week’s drama surrounding GameStop and other equities. Investors are increasingly confident that volatility would dent confidence in the broader stock market.
However, Hogan cautioned that much stronger data — including in Friday’s jobs report — could bolster critics of President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion plan.
Among individual companies, Merck fell 1.7 percent as it announced that Ken Frazier would step down as chief executive and be succeeded by Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis.
Apple jumped 2.6 percent following reports it is close to a deal on producing its own autonomous vehicles in cooperation with South Korean giant Hyundai. Neither company commented on the reports.
Disney rose 2.2 percent after a bipartisan group California state lawmakers released legislation that would allow the state’s theme park to reopen more quickly than under the current state plan.
Disney has criticized the coronavirus plan by Governor Gavin Newsom as overly restrictive.