Tue | Dec 12, 2017

More stock records as tech, energy companies rise

Published:Sunday | November 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM
The New York Stock Exchange. (AP)

US stocks set more records in quiet post-holiday trading Friday as technology companies again did much of the heavy lifting. Energy companies rose with the price of oil.

Macy's and some of its retail counterparts rose after the department store's CEO said Black Friday sales were going well. Online titan Amazon made an even bigger gain.

Oil prices and energy companies rose after Bloomberg reported that a group of key oil producers plans to extend production cuts until the end of 2018.

"If you take the cumulative effect of online and foot traffic going into the stores, it's showing you a robust consumer spending pattern," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.34 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,602.42, its first close above 2,600.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 31.81 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 23,557.99. The Nasdaq composite gained 21.80 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6,889.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies climbed 2.40 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,519.16.

The Dow finished slightly below its record high from Tuesday but the other major indexes closed at all-time highs. Trading ended early after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.

Macy's CEO Jeffrey Gennette told CNBC holiday shopping is off to a good start with relatively few discounts and strong sales of some especially profitable products like winter clothing. Macy's gained 44 cents, or 2.1 per cent, to US$21.07 and other department stores climbed as well.

Experts are mostly predicting strong sales over the holiday shopping period because of increased consumer confidence and a very low unemployment rate. The National Retail Federation trade group expects sales to grow at least as fast as they did last year.

Amazon, along with tech giants Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google's parent company Alphabet, have played a huge role in the market's gains this year. Those five companies combined are responsible for more than one-fourth of the value the S&P 500 has gained this year. Amazon and Facebook closed all-time highs Friday and the other three set record highs earlier this month.

In the energy market, US benchmark crude rose 93 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to US$58.95 a barrel in New York. Krosby said the Keystone oil pipeline spill earlier this month has also pushed US. oil prices higher by disrupting supplies.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 31 cents to US$63.86 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasolene added 2 cents to US$1.79 a gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to US$1.95 a gallon. Natural gas sank 16 cents, or 5.2 per cent, to US$2.81.

- AP