Belfast Telegraph

US stock indexes nudge again to record highs

A last-minute surge in trading was enough to nudge US indexes to more record highs on Monday as fear seemed to drain out of the market.

Trading was remarkably calm following the weekend's presidential election in France, which had the potential to upset global markets.

Emmanuel Macron, the candidate who was in favour of keeping France in the European Union and in the euro currency won, to the relief of investors who feared the alternative would have hurt global trade.

That helped calm markets enough that an index used to measure the market's fear level dropped to its lowest level since 1993.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index wafted up and down through the day before ending at 2,399.38, up by just 0.09 points.

The Dow Jones industrial average likewise edged up a fraction of a percent, adding 5.34 points to 21,012.28.

The Nasdaq composite rose 1.90 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 6,102.66. Small-company stocks fell, and the Russell 2000 index lost 5.36, or 0.4 percent, to 1,391.64.

Markets around the world have been tearing higher in recent weeks, due in part to excitement about the French election and strong earnings reports from US companies.

"Corporate earnings have been phenomenal, the best quarter in five years," said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.

"The earnings recession that was about seven or eight quarter long is definitively behind us. It's over."

More than 80% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their results for the first three months of the year, and most have topped analysts' expectations.

With the US jobs market continuing to improve, along with economies around the world, Mr Orlando says he expects profits to keep rising through the year.

That has him, unlike market critics, not worried that stocks have grown too expensive relative to their profits, and he expects further gains.

"Everyone is starting to get a little more confident now," he said.

Confidence has grown enough that the VIX volatility index on Monday sank to its lowest level since 1993.

The VIX measures how much investors are paying to protect themselves from upcoming swings in the S&P 500, and it has been on a general trend downward since shortly before Election Day.

AP

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