Equities Rally as S&P Posts Longest Stretch of Record Highs in 20 Years

U.S. stocks surged again on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 at the sixth straight record high close amid strong data and as U.S. House lawmakers passed a budget resolution the White House said drives economic growth and job creation, and opens the door for tax reform.

The stretch of all-time peaks in the S&P is the longest since 1997 when it hit eight, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“The Bull keeps going, and going,” he wrote in a note after the bell Thursday. “And yes, it can’t go on forever, but few money managers appear to be getting out.”

Information technology and financials posted the strongest gains among the sectors on the S&P, which saw eight of the 11 industry groups rise. Bank stocks benefited from growing expectations for an interest-rate increase in December, with the probability of a 25 basis-point hike rising to about 89% on the CME Group’s FedWatch tool from 72% a week ago.

Citigroup (C) gained 2.2% and Bank of America (BAC) added 1.6%. Goldman Sachs (GS) rose 2.4% in the strongest gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The second-best mover in the Dow was Microsoft (MSFT), which rose 1.7%, after Canaccord Genuity upgraded the firm to buy from hold.

Thursday’s data showed the US trade deficit narrowed more than expected in August, and first time jobless claims fell by a greater-than-expected 12,000 to 260,000 in the last week of September. Factory orders shot up 1.2% in August, better than estimates for 1%. While the House budget resolution passing was described as a procedural step forward by Reuters. The news agency said it includes a tool that would allow Republicans to bypass Democrats and pass a tax bill in the Senate with a simple majority.

The focus Friday though will be on the key jobs figure at 8:30am ET, with expectations on Econoday for jobs growth of 100,000 in September, down from 156,000 a month earlier. The unemployment rate is projected to remain at 4.4%.

In company news, Netflix (NFLX) rose 5.4% after the company raised prices on the middle and top tier plans in the US and getting price target upgrade at Pacific Crest Securities to $206 from $190. Penn National Gaming (PENN) rose 5% after the Wall Street Journal reported it has been in merger discussions with rival casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK), which jumped 8.4%.

By the close, the Nasdaq rose 0.8%, the S&P 500 gained 0.6% and the Dow increased 0.5%.

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