New York Report: S&P 500 closes at record figure on US Fed talks

THE S&P 500 closed at another record high yesterday as expectations were lifted that the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus in place when it meets this week.

But the overall market was little changed, with the Dow and Nasdaq ending down slightly, after the recent sharp run-up in the stock market lost some momentum.

The S&P 500 has risen 6.4 per cent since 8 October, when it hit its lowest point during the US government’s partial shutdown and the debate over raising the debt ceiling. The benchmark index is up 23.6 per cent for the year so far.

Relief over the end of the political impasse and investor expectations that the Fed will keep stimulus measures in place for at least several months because of the 16-day shutdown have propped up prices. Fed policymakers will meet on today and tomorrow.

On the down side, Merck fell 2.6 per cent and was one of the biggest drags on the Dow after the company reported a decline in sales of its Januvia diabetes treatment, raising concerns about growth prospects for its biggest product.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 1.35 points, or 0.01 per cent, to end at 15,568.93.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 2.34 points, or 0.13 per cent, to finish at a record 1,762.11. The S&P 500 also posted another lifetime intraday high at 1,764.99.

The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 3.23 points, or 0.08 per cent, to close at 3,940.13.

After the bell Apple’s shares fell, but then recovered, following the iPhone maker’s results.