Banks drive Wall Street to fresh records

US stocks rallied to fresh highs yesterday as investors picked up large-cap companies’ shares on the expectation that central bank stimulus will help propel the rally further.

Gains were broad, but growth sectors outperformed their peers with bank stocks leading the way. Bank of America, up 2.8 per cent at $13.34, was the Dow’s biggest percentage gainer, while Citigroup rose 2.4 per cent to $50.09.

The S&P 500 financial sector index rose 1.7 per cent, while the S&P transport index gained 1.4 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123.57 points, or 0.82 per cent, to close at a record 15,215.25. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 16.57 points, or 1.01 per cent, to end at a record 1,650.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 23.82 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 3,462.61, its highest close since November 2000.

During the session, the Dow hit an all-time intraday high of 15,219.55, while the S&P 500 climbed to an all-time intraday high of 1,651.10.

The Nasdaq touched a fresh 52-week high of 3,468.67.

Wall Street has rallied without a significant correction since the start of the year, pushing major indexes to all-time records and sending the S&P 500 up almost 16 per cent for 2013 so far.

The ascent has been driven in large part by the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy, designed to stimulate the economy, though investors’ focus has turned to when the Fed may start to rein in its bond-purchase program.

“The developed economies of the world are all easing aggressively, the money is looking for a home, and it's ending up in the stock markets,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management.