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Wall Street ends February higher, S&P 500 refreshes record high

English.news.cn   2014-03-01 07:51:31

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks shaved earlier gains to close mixed Friday, with the S&P 500 rising to uncharted territory to wrap up February on a strong note despite downward revised U.S. economic growth data for the fourth quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49.06 points, or 0.30 percent, to 16,321.71. The S&P 500 advanced 5.16 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,859.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 10.81 points, or 0.25 percent, to 4,308.12.

The benchmark S&P 500 jumped to a new record intraday high of 1, 867.92 points before cutting earlier gains in late afternoon trading session on rumors that Russia may take action in Ukraine.

Though giving up part of gains, the S&P 500 still logged a record close for a second consecutive session. The benchmark index jumped to an all-time closing high Thursday, as investors cheered Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony on Capitol Hill.

The market initially moved upward despite a downward revision in the growth rate of the world's largest economy, as analysts attributed the tepid number largely to unusually cold weather.

U.S. GDP increased at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the second estimate released by the Commerce Department Friday, lower than an initial estimate of 3.2 percent.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading of consumer sentiment index for February provided a boost to the market. It came slightly above market consensus, standing at 81.6 compared with its preliminary estimate of 81.2.

U.S. pending home sales were essentially unchanged in January, according to the National Association of Realtors, with the forward-looking indicator based on contract signings edging up 0.1 percent to 95.0 in January from an upwardly revised 94.9 in December.

U.S. stocks ended February remarkably higher, with the Dow up 4. 0 percent, the S&P 500 up 4.3 percent and the Nasdaq up 5.0 percent. In January, the three indices logged their worst month in over one year.

For the week, the Dow increased 1.4 percent, and the S&P 500 ticked up 1.3 percent while the Nasdaq went up 1.0 percent.

In corporate news, the Gap Inc. shares rose 0.16 percent to 43. 75 U.S. dollars a share, though the clothing and accessories retailer late Thursday reported less-than-expected revenues in the fourth quarter and issued profit and outlook trailing estimates.

In other markets, the U.S. dollar fell against most major currencies.

The euro advanced against the dollar to the highest level this year, as eurozone inflation were above market forecast, which cooled down speculations that the European Central Bank would take more easing measures at its policy meeting next week.

In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3820 dollars from 1.3709 dollars of the previous session. The greenback bought 101. 76 Japanese yen, lower than 102.07 yen of the previous session.

U.S. oil prices edged up despite the downwardly revised U.S. fourth-quarter GDP as analysts attributed the tepid growth number in a large part to unusually cold weather. The oil prices were also supported by the weaker dollar.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery was up 19 cents to settle at 102.59 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery gained 11 cents to close at 109.07 dollars a barrel.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped. The most active gold contract for April delivery dropped 10.2 dollars, or 0.77 percent, to settle at 1,321.6 dollars per ounce.

Editor: Yamei Wang
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