US stocks gain as Dow hits 5-year high
US stocks advanced, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a five-year high, as companies including Pfizer Inc. and Valero Energy Corp. reported earnings that beat estimates.
Pfizer rose 3.2 as the drugmaker also forecast higher-than- expected full-year profit. Energy shares climbed as Valero reported a 20-fold gain in profit and Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corp. urged Hess Corp. to consider a spinoff of its US shale assets.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.5 per cent to 1,507.88 at 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow added 73.03 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 13,954.96, the highest level since October 2007.
"Continued earnings beats that we've seen so far this quarter is helping drive the market," Jay Wong, a Los Angeles- based fund manager with Payden & Rygel, which oversees $US80 billion, said in a phone interview. "There is a lot of momentum in the market right now."
Equities rose even as the Conference Board's index of consumer confidence decreased to 58.6, the weakest since November 2011. The January reading was lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey, which had a median estimate of 64.
The S&P 500 has risen 5.7 per cent this month, off to the best start of a year since 1989, as lawmakers agreed on a budget compromise and companies reported better-than-estimated earnings. The index has more than doubled from a 12-year low in 2009 as the Federal Reserve has increased its bond purchases to keep interest rates low to spur growth. The S&P 500 is less than 4 per cent below its record of 1,565.15 set in October 2007 while the Dow is less than 2 per cent from its all-time high.
Twenty-five companies in the S&P 500 are reporting quarterly earnings today. About 75 per cent of the 175 companies in the S&P 500 that have released results so far in the quarter exceeded profit projections, while 67 per cent surpassed sales estimates, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Investors will watch an announcement from the Fed tomorrow to gauge the central bank's future policy. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke's latest round of bond buying will reach $US1.14 trillion before he ends the program in the first quarter of 2014, according to median estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The Federal Open Market Committee will renew its commitment to asset buying during a two-day meeting starting today after determining the benefits from the program exceed any risk of inflation or financial instability, according to economists surveyed Jan. 24-25.
"Economic growth is so modest at the moment that it's still highly unlikely they'll consider tightening," Michelle Clayman, chief investment officer at New Amsterdam Partners in New York, which manages $US2.5 billion, said in a phone interview. "It'd be pretty surprising to see any changes there."