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US indexes hit new records as global stocks continue to rise

Stocks around the world continued their march higher on Monday, and US indexes again hit new highs.

Strong gains for Citigroup and other financial stocks helped the Standard & Poor's 500 index rise 12.15 points, or 0.5%, to 2,328.25 - the third straight day the index has set a record.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 142.79, or 0.7%, to 20,412.16, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 29.83, or 0.5%, to 5,763.96. Earlier in the day, markets rose across Europe and Asia.

Stocks have resumed their rally in recent days after stalling for a couple weeks. Stronger-than-expected profit reports from companies, continued improvement in the US economy and expectations for business-friendly policies from Washington have helped propel the market.

With no major economic reports or other big news on Monday, stocks continued to follow the path of least resistance, analysts said.

"The market's got such good momentum now that it's going to continue until something slows it down," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Centre for Financial Research.

"There's really not any negative catalyst right now."

The S&P 500 has climbed five straight days and is up 8.8% since Donald Trump won the White House in November.

Companies whose profits are most dependent on the strength of the economy were some of Monday's biggest gainers.

Financial stocks in the S&P 500 rose 1.1%, the biggest gain among the 11 sectors that make up the index. Industrials rose 1%. Roughly three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The biggest stock in the S&P 500, Apple, was also at a record closing high. It rose 1.17 dollars, or 0.9%, to close at 133.29 dollars.

The iPhone maker's performance carries extra weight for many because of its status as the biggest publicly traded company in the world. It accounts for about 3.5% of S&P 500 index fund investments.

Chemical company Chemours jumped 4.01 dollars, or 14.3%, to 32.14 dollars after it announced an agreement with DuPont to jointly pay 670.7 million dollars to settle roughly 3,500 personal injury claims related to the release of perfluorooctanoic acid from a West Virginia plant. DuPont rose 99 cents, or 1.3%, to 77.82 dollars.

Zeltiq Aesthetics jumped 6.53 dollars, or 13.2%, to 55.93 dollars after Allergan said it would buy the company, whose CoolSculpting system helps people reduce bulges of fat. Allergan, which sells Botox, agreed to pay 56.50 dollars per share for Zeltiq.

The only sector in the S&P 500 to fall on Monday was telecoms, which sank on worries that more pricing wars may be on the way.

Verizon unveiled an unlimited data plan for its customers, and its stock dropped 43 cents, or 0.9%, to 48.55 dollars. Competitors fell more - AT&T lost 73 cents, or 1.8%, to 40.65 dollars, and Sprint fell 12 cents, or 1.3%, to 8.84 dollars.

Several events are on the schedule that could shift the market's momentum. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen will offer evidence on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday to update the Senate and House on monetary policy.

Most investors expect the central bank to keep raising interest rates in 2017, though at a modest pace.

The government will also offer updates on the state of inflation, on consumer and wholesale levels. Many investors expect inflation to rise due to policies proposed by Mr Trump and Congressional Republicans, although the bond market does not seem to be forecasting a runaway spike.

Treasury yields have been on an upward trend since Election Day, in part because of those expectations for higher inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.43% on Monday from 2.41% late on Friday. Two-year and 30-year Treasury yields also notched higher.

Stocks climbed in other markets around the world. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.4%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.6%, and South Korea's Kospi index added 0.2%.

In Europe, the French Cac 40 jumped 1.2%, Germany's Dax climbed 0.9% and the UK FTSE 100 added 0.3%.

Benchmark US crude oil fell 93 cents, or 1.7%, to settle at 52.93 dollars a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 1.11 dollars, or 2%, to 55.59 dollars a barrel.

Natural gas fell 9 cents, or 3%, to 2.94 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet, wholesale petrol fell 5 cents, or 2.8%, to 1.54 dollars a gallon, and heating oil lost 4 cents, or 2.3%, to 1.63 dollars a gallon.

In metals trading, gold fell 10.10 dollars to settle at 1,225.80 dollars an ounce, silver lost 11 cents to 17.82 dollars an ounce, and copper added 1.5 cents to 2.78 dollars a pound.

The dollar rose to 113.62 Japanese yen from 113.41 yen late on Friday.

AP

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