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S&P 500 ends at record on housing, HP

May 23. 2014 10:58PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Friday, buoyed by a rally in housing stocks after better-than-expected home sales and a jump in Hewlett-Packard shares a day after the personal computer maker said it would cut more jobs.

The S&P 500 ended above 1,900, just below a record intraday high of 1,902.17 set on May 13 and above its record closing high of 1,897.45 the same day.

Eight of the 10 S&P sector indexes ended higher for the day.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average rose 0.8 percent to close at a record high, after hitting a lifetime intraday high of 7,995.39.

Housing stocks ranked among the market’s biggest outperformers, with the housing index up 1.9 percent.

Big tech names like Apple Inc. and Amazon lifted the Nasdaq and helped it outperform the broader market. Apple shares ended up 1.1 percent at $614.13. Amazon shares jumped 2.4 percent to $312.24.

Hewlett-Packard jumped 6.1 percent to $33.72. The stock was among the S&P 500’s best performers a day after the personal computer maker said it may cut as many as 16,000 more jobs in a major ramp-up of CEO Meg Whitman’s years-long effort to turn the company around and relieve pressure on its profit margins.

The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, fell 5.6 percent to end at 11.36, its lowest level since March 2013. Known as Wall Street’s fear index, the VIX is extremely low by historical standards.

The VIX, at those levels, shows investors’ lack of anxiety and “a certain amount of complacency,” said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“The lower the VIX, the more overbought the market gets, leaving it vulnerable to some kind of setback,” Selkin said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.19 points or 0.38 percent, to 16,606.27. The S&P 500 gained 8.04 points or 0.42 percent, to end at 1,900.53, a record. The Nasdaq Composite added 31.47 points or 0.76 percent, to 4,185.81.

The S&P 500 posted its fifth daily advance out of the past six sessions, and its first weekly gain out of the past three.

A total of 146 stocks on the Big Board and Nasdaq touched 52-week highs, while just 26 issues hit 52-week lows. Two of the issues hitting 52-week lows on the Nasdaq are exchange-traded securities that track volatility.

Housing stocks rallied for a second day after data from the Commerce Department showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose more than expected in April and the supply of houses on the market hit a 3½ year high.

A day ago, another report showed existing home sales rebounded in April.

Shares of Lennar Corp, the second-largest U.S. homebuilder in terms of revenue, shot up 4 percent to $40.54. The stock of top U.S. homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc climbed 4.1 percent to $23.57.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap shares rose 1.1 percent, outperforming the broader S&P 500. The Russell fell into correction territory last week - defined as a 10 percent decline from a recent closing high.

Among transportation stocks, about a quarter of the Dow Jones Transportation Average marked fresh 52-week highs, including three airlines - Delta, Southwest and Alaska Air - and two railroads - Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

FedEx shares jumped 1.6 percent to $141.50.

Bucking Friday’s modest upswing was Aeropostale, which slid 24.6 percent to $3.41 after the teen apparel retailer forecast a bigger-than-expected loss for the current quarter.

Volume was light going into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when the U.S. stock market will be closed on Monday. About 4.6 million shares traded on all U.S. platforms, below May’s average of 5.9 million, according to BATS exchange data.

Two stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, while gainers outnumbered decliners on the Nasdaq Stock Market by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1. (Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal)


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