US stock indexes gained, recording a seventh week of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, after initial jobless claims showed the pace of hiring increased and drug-makers were boosted by positive news of favorable decisions by European regulators.
The S&P 500 added 0.5% to a record 1,804.76 at 4 p.m. in New York. The advance raised the benchmark index to a 27% yearly gain, pushing up the probability of being the biggest annual increase since 1998. The Dow Jones average rose 54.78 points, or 0.3%, to 16,064.77. About 5.6 billion shares changed hands in the U.S., 8% below the three-month average.
“Theres clear momentum to the market,” said to Wall Street Journal, Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist at Northern Trust Corp., which manages $846 billion in assets. “We dont see anything over the next six to 12 months to derail the market.”
Skeptics argue stocks have become overvalued and warn over possible retreat coming at some point.
Job openings in the U.S. climbed to a five-year high for the month of September, indicating employers were confident about demand before the federal government shutdown.
The Labor Department report showed the number of people hired increased to 4.59 million in September, the most since August 2008, from 4.56 million. The hiring rate rose to 3.4% from 3.3% in August.
Jobless claims fell to the lowest level since September and a confidence survey indicated American consumers became less pessimistic this month.
In corporate news, Biogen Idec advanced 13% to $285.62, the biggest gain in more than two years. The company’s drug Tecfidera won designation as a “new active substance” in Europe, giving it added protection against generic copies and paving the way for approval there. The pill is projected to be the company’s top-seller by 2015.The pill treats multiple sclerosis.
Time Warner Cable gained 10% to $132.92. Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. have discussed a joint bid for the company to divide its assets between them, people with knowledge of the matter said, cited by Bloomberg.
Intel Corp. lost 5.4% to $23.87. The world’s largest maker of semiconductors said revenue will be approximately unchanged in 2014. The company predicts the personal-computer market, measured by units, to be down in the “low single-digit” percent, Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said.
Gap Inc. fell 1.3% to $41.31. The biggest U.S. specialty-apparel retailer maintained its annual profit forecast range, signaling that the holiday-shopping quarter may fall short of analysts’ estimates.