(Bloomberg) — All three U.S. stock benchmarks hit record highs for the first time since Dec. 31, 1999, amid surprisingly strong earnings announcements. Meanwhile, across the pond, European shares erased the slump that followed Britain’s secession vote.
The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq indexes all advanced amid better-than-forecast profits at retailers Macy’s and Kohl’s. Europe’s equity benchmark closed at the highest level since May.
Investors have piled into global equities amid better-than-expected corporate earnings, improving economic data and optimism central banks will stay supportive of growth.
“We’re continuing to grind higher,” said Stephen Carl, principal and head equity trader at Williams Capital Group in New York. “You had some retail earnings that came in better than expected. Economic numbers such as jobless claims didn’t do anything to challenge the strength.”
In addition to Macy’s and Kohl’s Corp.’s profit surprises, investors are awaiting a raft of other quarterly data from retailers. Releases from Urban Outfitters, Home Depot and Wal-Mart are among those due next week. More than 400 of the S&P 500 companies have posted results so far, of which 78% beat profit projections and 56% exceeded sales expectations.
The S&P 500 gained 0.5% to 2,185.75, extending this year’s advance to 6.9%. The Dow and Nasdaq added more than 0.4%.
Fresh records in U.S. stocks are getting harder for strategists to ignore. Wells Fargo became just the second of 21 firms tracked by Bloomberg to raise its target for the S&P 500 since the measure surged past the group’s average year-end prediction a month ago. Gina Martin-Adams, the bank’s chief U.S. equity strategist, now expects the benchmark for American equities to climb to 2,200 in 12 months.
Still, the U.S. benchmark has failed to rise or fall more than 1% for 23 straight days, the longest such streak since 2014. After topping its previous record in mid-July, the S&P 500 inched higher in a range, with valuations near their most expensive in more than a decade.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.8%, reversing an earlier drop to rise for the sixth time in seven days. Zurich Insurance added 4.5% after saying profit fell less than projected.
Benchmark 10-year note yields rose six basis points to 1.57%, Bloomberg Bond Trader data show.
Investors are hesitant to buy into bond rallies amid rising speculation the Fed will raise interest rates this year, with the probability of a 2016 hike at about 48%, according to futures data compiled by Bloomberg. Still, easing policies of central banks abroad are sending yield-seeking investors to the U.S. Thursday’s 30-year sale drew a yield of 2.27%, the second-lowest on record, after last month’s auction saw a record-low 2.17% yield.
“Considering just how strong that demand was last month, I had expected we might see a little bit of a giveback, but the figures so far suggest that there was yet again both good foreign and investment-fund demand for the issue,” said John Canavan, a fixed-income analyst at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates in Princeton, N.J.
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