News

S&P 500 tops 2,000 for the first time

S&P 500 tops 2,000 for the first time

S&P: The benchmark S&P hit a new intraday record shortly after opening, and pierced 2,000 for the first time within the first hour of trading amid corporate merger activity and growing hopes for more monetary stimulus in European markets. Photo: Reuters

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 vaulted above 2,000 for the first time on Monday, with financials and biotechnology stocks lifting the benchmark index to a new record as investors bet on equities as a preferred asset over bonds.

The significance of the milestone was more psychological than fundamental, and it represents the cumulation of a six-year rally that has boosted retirement accounts for Americans from Wall Street to Main Street, though the gains have largely benefited wealthier Americans. On a total-return basis the S&P 500 has more than tripled from its 2009 low hit during the financial crisis.

The day’s gains were broad, with all 10 of the S&P 500’s primary sectors advancing. About two-thirds of stocks on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq were in positive territory.

“The trend continues to be positive and it’s like fighting a tsunami, it keeps going and going and going and it won’t stop,” said Adam Hewison, president and chief executive at INO.com in Annapolis, Maryland.

The advance comes amid a variety of cautious signals for the economy, including tepid U.S. growth, waning stimulus from the Federal Reserve and a simmering conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In the latest economic data, reads on both the U.S. services sector and the housing market came in below forecasts.

“All the world events are negative; people are just shrugging them off,” said Hewison. “I think we’re going to continue seeing gains.”

Biotech stocks, a primary driver of recent equity gains, continued to outperform on Monday, with the Nasdaq Biotech index <.NBI> up 2.4 percent. Roche Holding AG agreed to buy InterMune Inc for $8.3 billion in cash, the latest vote of confidence in a sector that many, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, worry is overvalued.

InterMune jumped 36 percent to $73.00. Gilead Sciences and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals were the S&P 500’s top two biggest percentage gainers, both up 2.5 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 117.81 points or 0.69 percent, to 17,119.03, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 12.94 points or 0.65 percent, to 2,001.34 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 28.52 points or 0.63 percent, to 4,567.07.

Financial shares were among the strongest of the day, rising on expectations that Europe may see more aggressive monetary stimulus. Morgan Stanley , which has heavy exposure to Europe, rose 2.5 percent to $34.29 while Goldman Sachs Group Inc , a Dow component, was up almost 2 percent at $178.90.

U.S. stocks have been strong of late. Major indexes closed a third week of gains Friday, with the Dow and S&P enjoying their best weeks since April.

Burger King is in talks to acquire Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc in a deal that would be structured as a so-called tax inversion transaction to move Burger King’s domicile to Canada, which has lower overall corporate taxes. Shares of Burger King jumped 17 percent to $31.67 while U.S. shares of Tim Hortons advanced 20 percent to $75.23.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)

Recent Headlines

19 hours ago in Music

TOP 10: Count down the top tracks this week

13-overlay-3

The top 10 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending Feb. 13.

19 hours ago in Music

This week’s top R&B tracks

tyrese

LISTEN: This week's top R&B tracks, according to the latest Billboard chart.

2 days ago in Entertainment

Bill Murray tosses fans’ phones off rooftop

billmurray

The "Ghostbusters" star was unwinding at rooftop restaurant in California on Thursday when he spotted two starstruck fans trying to snap his photo.

2 days ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Zoolander 2’ to battle at the box office

15-overlay-6

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

2 days ago in Entertainment, National

Roses and roaches: Cold-hearted Valentine’s Day ideas

valentines

With the coldest air in more than a decade forecast to grip the United States this Valentine's Day weekend, the holiday dedicated to love is flashing its frigid side.