From Reuters: S&P 500, Nasdaq hit record highs on bank, tech gains

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq touched intraday record highs on Tuesday and the Dow was poised for its best day of the year, lifted by gains in financial and technology stocks.

The advance comes as investors assess quarterly earnings reports, while trying to find more clarity on President Donald Trump’s economic policies.

Trump signed two executive orders on Tuesday to move forward with construction of the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, rolling back key Obama administration environmental actions in favor of expanding energy infrastructure. He also met with chief executives of the Big Three U.S. automakers to push for more cars to be built in the United States.

“He is demonstrating that he is extremely business friendly, and I thought he had a good day today,” said Stephen Massocca, Chief Investment Officer, Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.

“The protectionist stuff will spook the market, the rest of it is spot-on.”

Profits of S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen 6.7 percent in the latest quarter, marking the strongest growth in two years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Despite stalling in recent weeks, the post-election rally has contributed to somewhat lofty valuations. The S&P 500 is trading at about 17 times forward 12-month earnings, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream, compared with the 10-year median of 14.2.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 133.5 points, or 0.67 percent, to 19,933.35, the S&P 500 gained 16.27 points, or 0.72 percent, to 2,281.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 46.03 points, or 0.83 percent, to 5,598.98.

GM shares were up 1.5 percent and Ford rose 2.3 percent, while Fiat Chrysler jumped 6.7 percent. The S&P financial sector climbed 1.5 percent. The index had surged more than 16 percent in the wake of the election to the end of 2016 but has struggled in the new year, losing more than 1 percent through Monday.

Materials jumped nearly 3 percent and were on track for their best day since February. The sector was bolstered by a 5 percent rise in DuPont, which reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

IBM, up 2.9 percent, and Intel, up 2.6 percent, were among the top boosts to the S&P 500 and helped lift the tech sector by 1.1 percent to put the sector on track for its best day this year.

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