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22-Aug2018

US markets close higher on Tuesday

The US markets ended higher on Tuesday, registering a fourth straight gain on the back of optimism over US-China trade talks, even though President Donald Trump said he does not expect much progress from the talks, against the backdrop of a healthy economy and solid corporate earnings. The gains come on the day stocks tie a record for the longest bull market in history. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, a broad gauge of the US stock market, hit a fresh all-time high Tuesday, topping its prior January 26 peak of 2872.87. Besides, the most recent surge has been supported by strong corporate profits, helped by tax cuts and higher consumer spending. At the same time, corporations are spending more to buy back their own shares. So far, US companies have bought back $4.8 billion of their own shares each day this year, far above the previous record of $3.2 billion per day in 2007. Share buybacks help boost stock prices by reducing the number of outstanding shares traded in the market, which boosts per-share earnings and increases the ownership stake of current shareholders. 

Separately, Minutes from the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting are due out Wednesday and could provide insights into the latest thinking on rate hikes at a time when President Donald Trump has been stepping up criticism of tightening by the US central bank. The minutes will be followed by Fed chairman Jerome Powell's comments Friday to the annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The speech could take on some political overtones this year, after President Donald Trump again criticized Powell and the Fed. Trump said he was not thrilled with the Fed chairman, who he had appointed to replace Janet Yellen, and that he expected more help from the central bank. Trump said he would continue criticizing the Fed should it continue to raise short-term interest rates, which the central bank has indicated it will do at a steady clip.

Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.60 points or 0.25 percent to 25822.29, the S&P 500 gained 5.91 points or 0.21 percent to 2862.96 and Nasdaq was up by 38.17 points or 0.49 percent to 7859.17.


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