S&P 500 Aims for Longest Streak of Record Highs in 20 Years

By Riva Gold Features Dow Jones Newswires

S&P 500 eyes fresh records

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-- Spanish assets recover

-- Stocks little changed in Europe and Asia

Stock moves were muted Thursday with the S&P 500 angling at its longest streak of record closes in 20 years.

The index added 0.2% shortly after the opening bell, a day after gains in internet retailers pushed the S&P 500 to its seventh straight session of advances. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 12 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22674, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4%.

Shares of Constellation Brands gained 3.4% after the Corona brewer's results showed strong beer sales.

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U.S. stocks have been enjoyed small bumps higher in recent sessions amid continued signs that the economy remains on track and expectations of another quarter of above-average earnings growth.

Data Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits fell in late September, though recent hurricanes continued to disrupt economic activity in several regions. The Labor Department last week also warned the storms will likely affect Friday's monthly employment report.

"Investors understand data will be flipping over the next month due to the impact of hurricanes," said Dave Donabedian, chief investment officer at CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management. "But I still think there will be rising confidence in the idea that this economic expansion is not over."

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 edged down 0.1% after snapping a nine-session winning streak on Wednesday, its longest in more than two years.

Spanish stocks showed signs of recovering, however, with Spain's IBEX 35 index adding 1.8% -- led by gains in utility companies -- after sliding 2.9% Wednesday, its biggest percentage decline in more than a year.

Shares of Banco de Sabadell jumped 4% after a bank official said its board was meeting to approve moving its headquarters out of Catalonia.

Catalonia set a course toward declaring its secession from Spain as soon as Monday as Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made a televised address in which he took issue with a speech Spain's king made the previous evening admonishing the region's leaders for "inadmissible disloyalty."

"The potential for independence has been really priced out [by investors] as a tail risk with the stance the Spanish government has been taking," said Martin Arnold, strategist at ETF Securities. Even if Catalonia did break off, the euro would likely remain resilient due to strength in the wider eurozone economy, he said.

Investors also eyed minutes of the European Central Bank's September meeting released Thursday, which showed policy makers discussed how to scale back stimulus and argued over reasons for the euro's climb this year.

The euro was last down 0.2% at $1.1742, little changed after the minutes, while the British pound fell 0.6% to $1.3163. Sterling has fallen 1.8% this week following disappointing economic data releases and building concerns about political stability.

Yields on German 10-year government bonds fell to 0.432% from 0.447% Wednesday, echoing a modest dip in Treasury yields to 2.322% from 2.332%. Spanish 10-year yields fell to 1.715% from 1.765% and Italian yields fell to 2.199% from 2.244% after climbing to start the week. Investor appetite was intact at Spain's government bond auction Thursday, its first since Sunday's referendum.

Earlier, Singapore's banking and real-estate stocks moved higher, sending the FTSE Straits Times Index up 0.7% after two sessions of declines.

Trading in the region was otherwise muted as several key markets were shut for holidays. Markets in South Korea and China are closed for the entire week, while Hong Kong was shut Thursday.

--Suryatapa Bhattacharya, Kosaku Narioka, Cara Lombardo, Josh Mitchell and Emese Bartha contributed to this article.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 05, 2017 09:56 ET (13:56 GMT)