Wall Street advanced for a fourth straight session Thursday as robust earnings at Exxon Mobil Corp. and Aetna Inc. helped ground investors as they tried to reconcile divergent economic data.
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street advanced for a fourth straight session Thursday as robust earnings at Exxon Mobil Corp. and Aetna Inc. helped ground investors as they tried to reconcile divergent economic data.
The Dow Jones industrials, lifted in part by component Exxon Mobil, had their fourth straight record high close. The generally upbeat earnings reports of the past two weeks have helped power the blue chips as well as the rest of the stock market; Thursday’s batch of earnings also helped investors digest a pair of government reports that suggested an economic soft landing might be harder to achieve.
The market was initially inspired by data that indicated capital spending jumped by the most in more than six years, but then fell on a report that showed new home prices plunged at its steepest pace since 1970. Investors were particularly wary after the Federal Reserve, which on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged, said it remains concerned about inflation even as the economy is slowing.
“Things on the horizon are becoming less and less visible,” said Hugh Moore, a partner with portfolio manager Guerite Advisors.
He said the economic reports point to a “slow, grinding deceleration,” but for the moment stock investors are trading on optimism. This contributed to Thursday’s erratic trading – stocks spent most of the session in negative territory before a late-day rally.
Further direction about the economy will come with Friday’s release of gross domestic product estimates.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 28.98, or 0.24 percent, to 12,163.66. The Dow, which set a new closing high of 12,134.68 Wednesday, also reached a new trading high Thursday, 12,165.26.
Broader stock indicators also advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 6.86, or 0.50 percent, to 1,389.08. So far this quarter, the index’s components on average have reported double-digit earnings gains for the 18th consecutive quarter.
The Nasdaq composite index added 22.51, or 0.96 percent, to 2,379.10.