New records set on Wall Street as prices crawl up

Gains have been extremely modest today, but prices continue to move upward, meaning the S&P 500 has pushed through to fresh highs, while the Dow is closing in on its own record.

With the stock market performance being unexceptional over the last few session, and the government shutdown having occurred earlier in the month, one would be forgiven for thinking October hasn’t been a strong month, but the reality is that stock prices have made sharp gains over that period, with the S&P 500 having advanced more than 4% since the beginning of the month.

By early-afternoon in New York, the Dow had risen 0.14% or 22 points to 15,592, meaning the blue-chip index is just 0.75% from its all-time record high and just 0.55% from its closing record high.

The broader, and therefore more representative, S&P 500 index was up 0.22% at 1763.7, after having set a new record high of 1763.96. The NASDAQ 100 climbed 0.12% to 3387.9.

As earnings continue to come in for the quarter, the tone of the overall market remains positive, if staid. Dow component Merck today posted earnings that beat estimates, although revenue slightly undershot expectation. Apple reports after the market closes tonight.

The dollar has made slight gains today, ahead of the latest Fed policy meeting, which begins tomorrow and concludes on Wednesday.

A report today showed that US industrial production grew 0.6% in September. Although this was better than expected, most of the gain was attributable to a rise in utilities output cause by unseasonably cool weather boosting demand. The manufacturing component of the report rose by just 0.1%, the latest sign that activity in the manufacturing sector has been sedate recently. There is nothing in this report, therefore, to suggest the Fed will feel compelled to reduce stimulus.

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