Wall Street. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE
Wall Street. Picture: BLOOMBERG/MICHAEL NAGLE

New York — Wall Street is poised to mark the longest bull run in the New York Stock Exchange’s 226-year history on Wednesday, after the S&P 500 index touched a record intraday high on Tuesday and equalled its longest bull run.

The index’s bull-market run — a period of rising share prices without a 20% fall, which would indicate a bear market — is now 3,452 days old and on Wednesday is set to become the longest such streak in history. Only an extremely unlikely single-day drop of 20% would prevent the new milestone being reached.

Stocks were buoyed on Tuesday by strong earnings reports in the consumer sector and relative calm in the trade dispute between the US and China — but could come under pressure on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 rose as much as 0.6% to a record intraday high of 2,873.23 points, topping its previous record high of 2,872.87 on January 26, though it closed below both those marks.

Late in the day, however, stock market futures fell after US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying he made payments to influence the 2016 election at the direction of a candidate for federal office.

"The stock market loves the Trump agenda. Anything that’s damaging to Donald Trump’s agenda is not going to be good for the stock market," said Stephen Massoca, senior vice-president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

Trade-sensitive industrial stocks rose for the fourth consecutive session as investors remained optimistic the US and China could move closer to settling their trade dispute. The S&P 500 industrial index rose 0.8%.

The S&P consumer discretionary index climbed 0.9% as shares of off-price retailer TJX Companies rose on strong results and Toll Brothers’ encouraging quarterly report boosted shares of homebuilders.

"We’ve got good momentum, which is fundamentally justified by the strong economy and better earnings," said Kevin Caron, senior portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey. "Investors still seem relatively optimistic about growth, and you’re seeing that expressed in the market today."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.6 points or 0.25% to 25,822.29, the S&P 500 gained 5.91 points or 0.21% to 2,862.96 and the Nasdaq composite added 38.17 points or 0.49% to 7,859.17.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index, which is less affected by global tariff disputes than its large-cap peers, ended the session up 1.1% at a record closing high.

The S&P 500 energy index rose 0.5% and the S&P 500 materials index gained 0.4%, in tandem with higher prices for oil and metals.

Helping commodity prices was a drop in the dollar after Trump said on Monday he was "not thrilled" with the Federal Reserve for raising rates and that the central bank should do more to help him boost the economy.

The criticism comes ahead of the release of the Fed’s minutes of its August policy meeting on Wednesday, which is expected to reaffirm its confidence in the US economy and its commitment to future rate hikes.

Reuters

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