Wall Street hits new highs

By Margreet Dietz

The Dow Jones gained 0.4 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.6 per cent. Photo / AP
The Dow Jones gained 0.4 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.6 per cent. Photo / AP

Wall Street touched intra-day record highs as equities are still considered the best bet for investors as the US Federal Reserve is seen as keeping its interest rates on hold for now.

"Stocks have retained a hot pitch and there's a lot of demand for equities," Andrew Brenner, the head of international fixed income for National Alliance Capital Markets, told Bloomberg. "The question is how you make money in a low interest rate environment, and equities might be expensive, but they're the least dirty shirt."

The minutes of the July Federal Open Market Committee meeting are scheduled to be released on Wednesday, and might offer fresh clues on the chance of a rate hike this year.

The odds of a hike in September stand at 12 per cent, rising to about 38 per cent for December, Reuters reported, citing CME Group's Fedwatch tool.

Wall Street rose. In 3.22pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.6 per cent. In 3.07pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 0.4 per cent.

Gains in shares of DuPont and those of Caterpillar, last up 1.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, propelled the Dow higher.

Bucking the trend were shares of Wal-Mart and those of UnitedHealth, down 0.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, for the biggest percentage declines in the Dow in late afternoon trading.

Oil also gained, helping energy stocks, amid renewed optimism that the world's key producers might coordinate a lid on output.

"While we see very little possibility of an actualisation of curtailed OPEC output, there will likely be enough chatter during the next five to six weeks to deter selling in allowing WTI to gravitate at around the US$45 area, at least through the second half of this month," Jim Ritterbusch of Chicago-based oil markets consultancy Ritterbusch & Associates, told Reuters.

The question is how you make money in a low interest rate environment, and equities might be expensive, but they're the least dirty shirt.

Shares of Twitter jumped, up 7 per cent as of 3.20pm in New York, after a New York Times report that the company was in talks with Apple to bring its app to Apple TV.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session moving almost 0.1 per cent lower from the previous close. France's CAC 40 index slipped 0.1 per cent. Germany's DAX index rose 0.2 per cent, while the UK's FTSE 100 index increased 0.4 per cent.

"Now that the Bank of England has joined the European Central Bank in pushing rates lower, stocks will become that much more attractive, whether or not you think they're overvalued," Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets in London, told Bloomberg.

- BusinessDesk

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