Wall Street advanced, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to a fresh record high, as better-than-expected economic data as well as takeover deals underlined an optimistic outlook for corporate profits.
A report showed that US orders for durable goods posted the largest gain on record in July, jumping 22.6 percent. Separately, consumer confidence strengthened to the highest level in nearly seven years in August as the Conference Board's index of consumer attitudes climbed to 92.4 from a downwardly revised 90.3 the prior month.
"Consumer confidence increased for the fourth consecutive month as improving business conditions and robust job growth helped boost consumers' spirits," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.
"Consumers were marginally less optimistic about the short-term outlook compared to July, primarily due to concerns about their earnings," according to Franco. "Overall, however, they remain quite positive about the short-term outlooks for the economy and labour market."
In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.30 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 index added 0.22 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.36 percent.
The S&P 500 last traded at 2,002.24 after climbing as high as a record 2,005.04 earlier in the session.
And there is room for further gains.
"We're on the expensive side of fair value, but certainly not in the bubble place they were in the 2000 period or in a place that concerns us," Ed Hyland, an Atlanta-based global investment specialist at JPMorgan Chase Private Bank, told Bloomberg News. "There is potential for the market to go higher."
Gains in shares of Pfizer and IBM, up 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively, led the Dow higher.
Shares of Amazon rose, last up 2.9 percent, after the company said it agreed to buy Twitch Interactive, the leading live video platform for gamers, for about US$970 million.
"Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month -- from The International, to breaking the world record for Mario, to gaming conferences like E3," Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, said in a statement.
Shares of Canada's Tim Hortons climbed a second day, last up 8.4 percent, after Burger King Worldwide said it agreed to buy the company for US$11.4 billion. Shares of Burger King Worldwide fell, last down 3.9 percent.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with an advance of 0.7 percent, as did the UK's FTSE 100. Germany's DAX rose 0.8 percent, while France's CAC 40 increased 1.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the euro declined, hitting the lowest level against the greenback in almost a year, amid bets the European Central Bank is gearing up for further stimulus measures to combat a flagging euro-zone economy. ECB policy makers meet next week.
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