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S&P 500 index closes at a record high

The Standard and Poor's 500 index has closed at a record high, beating the mark it set just over a year ago.

The Dow Jones industrial average was within 1% of its own closing high, which was also set in May last year, but the Nasdaq composite has further to go.

The technology-focused index is still negative for the year and would have to gain nearly 5% to regain the closing high it reached last July.

The S&P 500 gained 7.26 points, or 0.3%, to 2,137.16. That beat the record close of 2,130.82 it reached on May 21 2015.

The Dow rose 80.19 points, or 0.4%, to 18,226.93. The Nasdaq composite rose 31.88 points, or 0.6%, to 4,988.64.

The market has had a rough ride in the year since the S&P 500's last record. Investors have been rattled by plunging oil prices, falling corporate earnings, fears over possible rising interest rates, slowing growth in China, and, most recently, Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union.

In the weeks since the referendum on June 23, however, many investors have come around to thinking that the consequences of the vote may be contained largely to Britain, and they have gone back to buying stocks again.

Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners, expressed surprise that the market has bounced back so much that the S&P 500 has reached another record high.

"If you looked at the headlines from Brexit, you'd think that the world was coming to an end," Mr Corpina said. "And very quickly, in a matter of weeks, that was completely erased."

Technology stocks and banks rose more than the rest of the market, while utilities and phone companies, which investors have favored recently for their steady dividends, fell. Boeing rose 1.95 US dollars, or 1.5%, to 132.04 US dollars and Citigroup added 31 cents, or 0.7%, to 42.29 US dollars.

This week investors are turning their focus to company earnings. Aluminum maker Alcoa reported its quarterly earnings after the closing bell on Monday, and JPMorgan Chase will release its own results on Thursday.

Earnings per share for companies in the S&P 500 index are expected to fall 5.4% for the second quarter, the fourth straight quarterly drop, according to research firm S&P Global Market Intelligence. But some investors think the worst is over as oil prices stabilise, the jobs market strengthens and consumers start spending more.

"When consumers start to spend more, producers have to produce more, which means they have to hire more workers," said John Manley, chief equity strategist for Wells Fargo Fund Management. "It's a virtuous cycle."

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 4% following a weekend election that landed the ruling coalition a resounding victory, ensuring stability and more stimulus spending for the world's third-largest economy.

European markets closed sharply higher. France's CAC 40 gained 1.8%, while Germany's DAX climbed 2.1%.

The FTSE 100 added 1.4%. Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi gained 1.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.5%.

Benchmark US crude fell 65 cents, or 1.4%, to close at 44.76 US dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a standard for international oil prices, lost 51 cents, or 1.1%, to 46.25 US dollars a barrel in London.

In other energy trading in New York, wholesale gasoline rose one cent to 1.38 US dollars a gallon, heating oil was flat at 1.42 US dollars a gallon and natural gas dropped 10 cents, or 3.5%, to 2.70 US dollars.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.43% from 1.36%. The dollar rose to 102.77 yen from 100.46 yen. The euro rose to 1.1058 US dollars from 1.1049 US dollars.

Gold fell 1.80 US dollars to 1,356.60 US dollars an ounce, silver rose two cents to 20.30 US dollars an ounce and copper rose three cents to 2.15 US dollars a pound.



From Belfast Telegraph