US stocks end at records, Dow closes above 24,000 for first time

US stocks end at records, Dow closes above 24,000 for first time

NYSE Nov30
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

NEW YORK: The Dow finished above 24,000 points for the first time on Thursday (Nov 30), surging with the S&P 500 to fresh records as the Senate tax cut plan moved closer to passage.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 331.67 points (1.39 per cent) to 24,272.35.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 21.51 points (0.82 per cent) to close at 2,647.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 49.58 points (0.73 per cent) to 6,873.97, falling short of its prior record set two days ago.

Republicans in the Senate have so far set aside concerns about the long-awaited tax bill, including estimates it will balloon the deficit by at least US$1 trillion, and have supported the measure at decisive moments to move it towards a final vote.

During the floor debate on Thursday, Republican Senator John McCain came out in support of the measure, news that helped lift stocks to session highs.

Many analysts believe US stocks could still climb somewhat further if the tax cut becomes law, with some eyeing the S&P 500 at 2,800.

"While the market has definitely run in anticipation of tax reform, there is still some sort of skepticism," said Lindsey Bell, investment strategist CFRA Research. "So the positive news we've gotten today is certainly boosting the market."

Some of the biggest gains were from petroleum-linked stocks, with Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron both winning more than one per cent after OPEC agreed to extend a production agreement to boost oil prices.

Industrial shares also were strong, with Dow members Caterpillar and United Technologies gaining more than two per cent and Honeywell International jumping 1.8 per cent.

CVS Health rose 4.4 per cent following reports the pharmacy chain is close to a US$65 billion deal to acquire insurer Aetna. Aetna climbed 0.3 per cent.

Kroger jumped 6.1 per cent as the supermarket chain reported slightly higher third-quarter earnings of US$397 million compared to the year-ago period as comparable sales rose 1.1 per cent.

Source: AFP/de