Transport shares boost Wall Street

US stocks posted their sixth straight day of gains yesterday as an encouraging profit forecast from United Parcel Service (UPS) lifted transportation shares, though concerns about a rise in weekly jobless claims limited the market’s advance.

Financial stocks weighed on the S&P 500 as they gave back some gains after Wednesday’s strong rally.

UPS posted a first-quarter profit that was sharply above consensus and raised its profit outlook, becoming the latest bellwether to exceed expectations.

The stock rose 5.3 per cent to $68.89 while rival shipper FedEx gained 1.7 per cent to $95.62. The Dow Jones Transportation Average climbed 1.7 per cent, hitting a 52-week high in intraday trading.

Google fell 4.6 per cent to $568 in extended trading after reporting its first-quarter results. The stock rose 1.1 per cent in anticipation of the results to close at $595.30 and is up about five per cent this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.46 points, or 0.19 per cent, to end at 11,144.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index edged up 1.02 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 1,211.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 10.83 points, or 0.43 per cent, to close at 2,515.69.

Citigroup was the most actively traded name on the Big Board, losing 2.4 per cent to $4.81.

S&P 500 companies’ quarterly earnings are forecast to rise 38.2 per cent from a year ago, slightly better than the 36.6 per cent increase forecast on 1 April, according to data.

The S&P 500 remained well above the key 1,200 mark and the Dow above 11,000. The recent break above those levels was the first time since September 2008.

Analysts have been more optimistic about the US stock market’s performance for the year. Yesterday, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raised its year-end target for the S&P 500 to 1,300 from 1,275.

About 10.16bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

Decliners slightly outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio of about eight to seven.