The U.S. benchmarks continued their steady march higher on Tuesday, with the Standard & Poor's 500 hitting an all-time high on an intraday basis. That ties a record for the longest ever bull market run, with trading on Wednesday poised to set a new peak.
Consumer discretionary led eight of the 11 sectors higher on the S&P 500, rising almost 1% near the close after strong quarterly results and guidance raises from retailers Kohl's ( KSS ) and TJ Maxx parent TJX Companies ( TJX ).
The run is poised to top the prior longest bull market, which is defined as a 20% rise in the S&P 500 from its previous low, by hitting 3,453 days on Wednesday, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices data. The past best high was a stretch between late 1990 and early 2000.
After a drop in equities during the financial crisis, "few would have predicted such a run up, although as peak levels are tested, there is no shortage of bearish warnings," said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel Economics.
In fact, 2018's gains have been anything but a straight move up, with stocks taking choppy directions amid concerns about US global trade policy and prospects for higher interest rates. But fiscal policies, corporate earnings and, in recent days, an easing of worries about relations between the US and China ahead of talks between the countries have helped markets post four straight days of gains.
On the Dow Jones Industrial Average, almost two thirds of its blue chips advanced, with Intel ( INTC ) rising 2.4% on a day when semiconductor stocks bolstered the S&P's tech sector and the Nasdaq, which was also lifted by a second day of gains for Tesla ( TSLA ). The electric car maker gained 4.4% after Reuters said Morgan Stanley ( MS ) halted equity coverage on the company in a hint that the bank might be doing business with the company amid its go-private plans.
The light economic calendar picks up pace with the release of the Federal Reserve's meeting minutes from earlier this month on Wednesday. And attention turns to the annual gathering of policy makers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming later in the week.
Here's where the markets stood by the close:
Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 63.60 points (+0.25%)
S&P 500 was up 5.91 points (+0.21%)
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 38.17 points (+0.49%)
FTSE 100 was down 0.34%
Nikkei 225 was up 0.09%
Hang Seng Index was up 0.56%
Shanghai China Composite Index was up 1.31%
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