Dow hits fresh record high as data cheers


WALL Street mostly edged higher yesterday, with the Dow hitting another record, helped by a private payroll survey that bodes well for the monthly jobs report due at the week’s end.

Improved labor market data from the private sector sparked the positive tone and boosted confidence for the US government’s payroll report on Friday. The data from payrolls processor ADP followed similarly strong reads on housing and the services sector, reports that have contributed to lifting the Dow to historic levels and pushing up the S&P 500 to just 1.5 per cent below its own record close.

Continued support from the Federal Reserve and equity valuations that are considered attractive compared with other asset classes have also pushed shares higher, and while some continue to call for a pullback at recent levels, those factors staying in place could keep shares rising.

Energy and material shares led the advance. Peabody Energy rose 3.5 per cent to $21.53, while Chevron gained 0.5 per cent to $118.47. Newmont Mining rose 3.7 per cent to $40.01 while US Steel added 3.9 per cent to $20.76. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold was the S&P 500’s top percentage gainer, up 4.1 per cent at $32.84.

The S&P 500 index is trading at 13.6 times estimated 12-month earnings, compared with around 14.9 times in October 2007 when the index hit its intraday high, according to Thomson Reuters data. This suggests that stocks are still about 9 per cent cheaper than they were at the 2007 peak.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 42.47 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 14,296.24, another record closing high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index edged up 1.67 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 1,541.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 1.77 points, or 0.05 per cent, to close at 3,222.36.