The benchmark index hit a new intraday high in the last minutes of trading, following a session that was largely marked by slight moves as investors found few reasons to extend recent gains. Technology shares led the day’s advance, contributing to the Nasdaq’s sharp gain.
Encouraging data on home prices and consumer confidence added to the day’s positive tone, though a decline in regional business activity underlined the growth concerns that remain. “Even though the overall backdrop isn’t overly positive, the market has a strong underlying bid, where it wants to go up on earnings and the Federal Reserve having our back with policy,” said Michael Mullaney of Fiduciary Trust.
Apple rose 2.9 per cent to $442.78 after coming to market with the largest non-bank bond sale in history as it seeks funding to return cash to shareholders. Apple has been one of the biggest drags on the S&P 500 this year, falling nearly 17 per cent in 2013.
US home prices rose in February at their fastest rate in almost seven years while consumer confidence rebounded in April. However, business activity in the US Midwest unexpectedly contracted in April to its lowest level since September 2009.
The S&P 500 closed out its sixth straight month of gains, its longest winning streak since September 2009, as investors used any pullback as a buying opportunity.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 21.05 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 14,839.80 at the close. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.96 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 1,597.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 21.77 points, or 0.66 per cent, to close at 3,328.79.