S&P jumps to a record high on housing uplift

THE S&P 500 index ended at an all-time high yesterday as growth-oriented stocks, including energy and technology, lead the way to the index’s sixth rise in the past seven sessions.

Stronger-than-expected housing data also boosted the market, as did Italy’s formation of a new government.

Wall Street followed European stocks higher as Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta urged a focus on growth policies and away from austerity measures in his inaugural speech.

“After the election there was a lot of uncertainty about whether Italy could form a government, so now there is not only a great deal of relief over that, but also expectations for additional monetary policies from the ECB,” said Alec Young, global equity strategist at S&P Equity Research in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 106.20 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 14,818.75. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 11.37 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 1,593.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 27.76 points, or 0.85 per cent, at 3,307.02.

The US Federal Reserve will also meet this week for a two-day session beginning today. The Fed is expected to maintain its stimulus policy. Data yesterday showing muted inflation gave the Fed room for accommodative measures.

Also lifting markets was Apple, which jumped 3.1 per cent to $430.12 after taking initial steps for what would be its first debt sale. Technology stocks rose 1.7 per cent, making the sector the best-performing yesterday.

Moody’s was the S&P 500’s top percentage gainer, jumping 8.3 per cent to $59.69 after the company settled a lawsuit alleging that it had misled investors about risk.