Dow, S&P 500 close at new record highs

NEW YORK: US stock markets Thursday continued their bull run of 2013, closing at fresh records after a strong US unemployment report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 122.33 (0.75 per cent) to 16,479.88, finishing at a record high for the sixth straight session.

The SandP 500, closing at a record high for the fourth straight session, added 8.70 (0.47 per cent) at 1,842.02. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased 11.76 (0.28 per cent) to 4,167.18.

The latest record came after US Labor Department data showed first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to 338,000 from an adjusted 380,000 the previous week. Analysts had projected that 350,000 claims would be filed.

Other better-than-expected economic news in recent days has increased confidence in the US outlook after the Federal Reserve announced on December 18 it was scaling back its bond-buying programme.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond hit 3.0 per cent earlier Thursday before retreating. Higher yields sometimes crimp enthusiasm for equities, but the recent rise has been gradual, said Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist at Pension Partners.

"If you have a spike in yields, it is a negative," Gayed said.

"But as the yields are gradually going higher despite the Fed tapering, that means there is a growing sense of confidence that the stocks market does not need the Fed as much."

Online retailer Amazon gained 1.3 per cent after reporting that subscriptions to its Amazon Prime two-day shipping programme jumped in December ahead of Christmas and now counts tens of millions of members worldwide. Amazon characterized the 2013 holiday shopping season as its best ever.

Shipping company UPS advanced 0.2 per cent despite criticism after it missed some Christmas deadlines for gift-package delivery due to an unexpectedly large volume. Rival FedEx, which appeared to have somewhat fewer problems, rose 0.9 per cent.

BlackBerry shed 8.7 per cent after co-founders Michael Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin disclosed they were selling a large percentage of their shares in the embattled smart-phone maker.

Telecom company Sprint rose 3.1 per cent following a report that its parent SoftBank is in talks to purchase US wireless company T-Mobile. T-Mobile rose 2.3 per cent.

Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.99 per cent from 2.98 per cent after breaching the 3.00 per cent level earlier in the session.

The 30-year increased to 3.92 per cent from 3.90 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.-- AFP