The S&P 500 index chalked up its longest bull-market run on Friday, closing above its previous January high, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirmed the U.S. central bank’s current pace of rate hikes.
The S&P had last reached a new closing high on Jan. 26, then retreated more than 10 percent, a correction that lasted until Feb. 8. Friday’s new closing high confirmed that the index’s bull run remained intact.
Speaking at a research symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell said the Fed’s gradual interest rate hikes were the best way to protect the economic recovery, maintain strong job growth and keep inflation under control. His comments did little to change market expectations of a rate hike in September and perhaps again in December.
The Street was reassured that Powell’s comments stayed in line with previous commentary from the Fed regarding policy. The latest economic data also raised investor sentiment.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that new orders for capital goods exceeded forecasts for the month of July, with shipment growth remaining strong.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.47 percent, the S&P gained 0.87 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 1.66 percent. The small-cap Russell 2000 index also advanced 0.5 percent to reach a new closing high.
A dip in the dollar after Powell’s comments helped lift materials and energy stocks as the prices of oil and metals rose. The S&P 500 materials sector was up 1.2 percent, the largest percentage gain among the 11 major S&P sectors.
Netflix rose 5.8 percent to add the most gains to the S&P 500 after SunTrust Robinson Humphrey upgraded its rating on the stock to “buy” and projected that third-quarter subscriber growth would match or beat Wall Street estimates.
Autodesk rose 15.3 percent, the last percentage gain among S&P 500 stocks, after the software maker’s quarterly results exceeded estimates.
Gap and Foot Locker fell 8.6 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively, after the two retailers posted disappointing same-store sales.
Approximately 5.43 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.28 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Durable Goods Orders Fall – Again
A a large decline in new contracts for passenger jets caused orders for durable goods to fall in July for the third time in four months. However, manufacturers, aside from Boeing, reported respectable results and business investment strengthened.
According to the Commerce Department, orders for durable goods, those products expected to last three or years, fell 1.7 percent during July.
If you remove aircraft and automobiles, orders actually rose 0.2 percent to mark the sixth increase in a row. Transportation often exaggerates the ups and downs in orders because of lumpy demand from one month to the next.
Orders for commercial aircraft fell 34 percent
Boeing typically posts a huge increase in orders early in the summer after the industry’s annual airshow, followed by a lull. The airplane builder took in 233 orders in June and just 30 in July. Orders for fighter planes and other military aeronautics also sank, while those for autos and parts rose 3.5 percent, marking the second straight strong gain.
Orders also rose for primary metals, heavy machinery and computers.
Business investment accelerated in July despite festering uncertainty over recently imposed tariffs and the threat of more amid tense negotiations between the U.S. and other key trading partners.
So-called core orders rose 1.4 percent during July last month in the fourth straight gain. They are up a healthy 7.2 percent in the first seven months of 2018, compared with the same period a year ago.
The originally reported 0.8 percent, increase in orders in June was cut to a 0.7 percent.