Stocks Set Fresh Record High on Business Outlook

NEW YORK (Reuters) —
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Major global and U.S. stock indices set fresh all-time highs on Friday, buoyed by a bright business outlook and strong corporate earnings, while the economy’s strength in continental Europe lifted the euro to a two-month high against the dollar.

Gains in, Facebook and Broadcom lifted the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and MSCI all-country world index to closing record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also closed higher, but did not set a record.

Wall Street closed early, a day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, which marks the start of a year-end shopping season that has increasingly gone online.

Black Friday sales got off to a strong start online at $640 million as of 10 a.m., according to Adobe Analytics, up 18.4 percent from a year ago. On Thursday, U.S. shoppers spent more than $2.87 billion online.

Earlier in Europe, German business confidence hit a record high in November, a sign the region’s largest economy is on track for a boom, the Ifo economic institute said.

The Ifo survey helped allay concerns about the recent failure of forming a new German government and came a day after surveys of Europe’s services and manufacturing industries beat the most optimistic forecasts in Reuters polls.

The strong outlook from Europe led the euro to post a third straight week of gains against the dollar, its best run since July. The single currency rose 0.61 percent to $1.1922.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of regional shares closed down 0.12 percent, as strong gains in financials were offset by heavy losses in health care.

However, several major European country indices, including France’s CAC 40, Germany’s DAX and Spain’s IBEX , all advanced.

MSCI’s all-country world index of equity markets in 47 countries rose 0.25 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31.81 points, or 0.14 percent, to 23,557.99. The S&P 500 gained 5.34 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,602.42 and the Nasdaq Composite added 21.80 points, or 0.32 percent, to 6,889.16.

The S&P 500 so far this year has gained 16 percent, while the Nasdaq is up 28 percent.

The dollar index fell to its lowest since Sept. 26 at 92.675 and the Japanese yen weakened 0.31 percent versus the greenback at 111.55 per dollar.

The index suffered its worst single-day decline in more than five months on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting showed some policymakers are concerned about stubbornly weak U.S. inflation.

Underlying dynamics point to a weaker dollar medium term, said BMO Capital Markets currency strategist Stephen Gallo, in London.

“When you have firm global risk appetite, pretty firm global growth conditions including in the euro zone and firm global commodity prices, there isn’t a lot of – if any – safe-haven demand for dollars,” Gallo said.

U.S. Treasury yields rose slightly but stayed within a tight range they have held for the past week-and-a-half as investors focused on the subdued inflation outlook which has helped the yield curve to its flattest levels in a decade.

The benchmark 10-year note fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.3401 percent.

U.S. light crude hit $58.92 a barrel, a more than two-year high, before easing to settle up 93 cents at $58.95.

Brent rose 31 cents to settle at $63.86.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down $4.90 at $1,287.30 per ounce.

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