New York Report: Wall St pushes stocks close to a record high

US STOCKS climbed for a second straight session yesterday, with the S&P 500 within striking distance of its record after comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin lessened anxiety that tensions over Ukraine could escalate even further.

Gains were broad, with nine of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes higher for the day.

An S&P technology sector index , up 1.4 per cent, led the advance, buoyed by a rally in Microsoft.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 88.97 points or 0.55 per cent, to end at 16,336.19.

The S&P 500 gained 13.42 points or 0.72 per cent, to finish at 1,872.25. The Nasdaq Composite added 53.364 points or 1.25 per cent, to close at 4,333.313.

With the day’s gain, the S&P 500 is just 0.3 per cent away from an all-time closing high hit earlier this month. Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,346 to 700, while on the Nasdaq, advancers beat decliners by 1,986 to 620.

Investors were looking ahead to the conclusion of a two-day meeting of the US Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee, which began as scheduled last night.

The Fed is not expected to deviate from previously announced policy plans, but because its stimulus has kept a floor under equity prices, market participants will be attuned to any hint of a change.

In the latest economic data, the US consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent in February, as expected, while housing starts slipped from the previous month.