US shares end eight day winning streak
The S&P 500 eased slightly on Monday after an eight-day run of gains, while the Nasdaq edged higher as Apple shares rebounded.
The index remained above 1,500, however, after closing above that level on Friday for the first time in more than five years. The S&P 500's eight sessions of gains was its longest winning streak in eight years.
Caterpillar shares helped cap losses in the Dow industrials even as the company posted a 55 per cent drop in quarterly profit due to a charge connected with accounting fraud at a Chinese subsidiary and weak demand among its dealers. Caterpillar's shares, down 2.2 per cent in the past three sessions, rose 2 per cent Monday to $US97.45.
"I think this multi-year high is really something that's in play both for shorter-term traders and with folks with money on the sidelines," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
Bargain hunters lifted Apple after the tech giant's stock dropped 14.4 per cent in the previous two sessions. With Apple's stock up 2.3 per cent at $US449.83, the iPad and iPhone maker regained the title as the largest US company by market capitalization as Exxon Mobil fell 0.7 per cent to $US91.11 and slipped back to second place.
On the down side, Boeing fell 1.4 per cent to $US74 on worries about the potential hit from delays in its 787 Dreamliner program.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 14.05 points, or 0.10 per cent, at 13,881.93. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.78 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 1,500.18. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.59 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 3,154.30.
Investors poured $US55 billion in new cash into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January, the biggest monthly inflow on record, research provider TrimTabs Investment Research said.
"What we have seen this year is, it appears the individual investor is allocating some 401(k) money to equities. Hopefully that's a decision that will be with us for a while," Hellwig said.
Data on Monday pointed to growing economic momentum as companies sensed improved consumer demand.
US durable goods orders jumped 4.6 per cent in December, a pace that far outstripped expectations for a rise of 1.8 per cent. Pending home sales, however, unexpectedly dropped 4.3 per cent. Analysts were looking for an increase of 0.3 per cent.
Corporate earnings so far have mostly been stronger than expected. Thomson Reuters data showed that of the 150 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far, 67.3 per cent have beaten analysts' expectations, which is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.
Stocks have also gained support from a recent agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing power. On Monday, Fitch Ratings said that agreement removed the near-term risk to the country's 'AAA' rating.
Hess Corp shares shot up 6.1 per cent to $US62.48 after the company said it would exit its refining business, freeing up to $US1 billion of capital. Separately, hedge fund Elliott Associates is looking for approval to buy about $US800 million more in Hess stock.