Wall Street climbed to record highs, as the latest US new car sales data exceeded analysts' expectations and bolstered shares of General Motors and Ford Motor.

Shares of General Motors rose, up 2.7 per cent as of 2.28pm in New York, while those of Ford gained 1.8 per cent, after both car makers reported better-than-expected sales for September.

GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem said all the key US economic indicators point toward continued economic growth and stability, while in addition, regions devastated by the recent hurricanes will continue to recover, helping spur new and used vehicle sales.

"The overall strength of the US economy is the main force driving the market," Mohatarem said in a statement. "With the US economy strengthening, retail sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future."

Advertisement

Wall Street moved higher. In 2.29pm trading in New York, the Dow gained 0.4 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2 per cent. In 2.14pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index increased 0.1 per cent.

The Dow climbed to a record 22,642.31, while the S&P 500 rose to a record 2,532.66, and the Nasdaq hit a record 6,531.75.

Gains in shares of American Express and those of Intel, both recently up 1.1 per cent, led the Dow higher. Bucking the trend, shares of Microsoft and those of Nike slid, recently down 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively for the largest percentage declines in the Dow.

Investors are focused on the latest US jobs data due in the coming days, with the ADP employment report on Wednesday, weekly jobless claims on Thursday and the government's nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

"There weren't too many economic numbers on tap today, but some stories are starting to focus on the upcoming payroll numbers on Friday," Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer of Lisle, Illinois-based Oakbrook Investments, told Bloomberg. "People are really focused on looking ahead to that employment number."

US Treasuries rose, pushing yields on the 10-year note one basis point lower to 2.33 per cent.

Meanwhile, investors are ramping up bets that the world's largest bond market will decline further, Bloomberg reported. A JPMorgan Chase survey for the week through October 2 found that clients as a whole soured on Treasuries, with 44 per cent holding a short position relative to their benchmark. That's the most since 2006 and up from 30 per cent in the prior period, according to Bloomberg.

Among those who actively place bets, such as speculative accounts, a record 70 per cent were short.

Advertisement

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.2 per cent increase from the previous close. France's CAC 40 Index rose 0.3 per cent, the UK's FTSE 100 Index advanced 0.4 per cent, while Germany's DAX Index climbed 0.6 per cent.