While you were sleeping: Creeping to record high

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index crept to a fresh intraday record high as investors await the second estimate of US economic performance in the first quarter, scheduled to be released on Thursday.

A preliminary estimate showed the US economy had expanded at a 0.1 percent annualised rate in the first three months of 2014, but economists predict the second estimate might show it shrank.

Recent economic data have indicated the world’s largest economy is performing better than anticipated, while the US Federal Reserve has indicated it is in no rush to raise interest rates. Those factors have helped underpin both Wall Street and US Treasuries.

In the final hour of trading in New York, the S&P 500 was up 0.08 percent at 1,913.36, after touching a record high 1,914.46 earlier in the session.

"We made a pretty decisive move above 1,900" on the S&P 500, Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer of Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, told Reuters. "Economic momentum is clearly to the upside at the moment."

Even so, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.11 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index edged 0.07 percent lower

The Dow fell as declines in shares of McDonald’s, down 1.1 percent, and IBM, down 0.7 percent, outweighed gains in shares of Intel, up 0.8 percent, and JPMorgan Chase, up 0.7 percent.

Shares of Twitter climbed, last up 9.6 percent, after Nomura Holdings lifted its recommendation on the stock.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index inched lower from the previous close to finish the day at 34429. France’s CAC 40 and the FTSE’s 100 Index both crept higher, while Germany’s DAX slipped.

A report showed that unemployment in Germany, the euro zone’s biggest economy, unexpectedly rose in May, bolstering expectations the European Central Bank will ease monetary policy at its June meeting.

The euro weakened as a result, declining 0.3 percent against the greenback.

Euro-zone bonds, however, advanced as a decrease in interest rates makes fixed-income securities pegged at higher rate more appealing. Yields on Germany’s benchmark 10-year bond declined five basis points to 1.34 percent.

"What we’re seeing is continued focus on the increasing likelihood of policy easing next week from the central bank," Omer Esiner, chief market analyst in Washington at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, a currency brokerage, told Bloomberg News.

ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said the central bank would look at a range of options to counter low inflation and low credit growth. He was speaking at a conference hosted by the Bank of Japan.

Meanwhile, palladium climbed to the highest level in nearly three years amid an ongoing labour dispute in South Africa, the world’s second largest producer of the precious metal.

Palladium futures for September delivery climbed 1.1 percent to settle at US$840.75 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Other metals including copper also gained amid optimism about the outlook for economic growth globally.

(BusinessDesk)

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