Dow powers to within 1.5% of its all-time high

Stocks have extended their gains on Wall Street as the day has progressed, with the market’s upward momentum apparently still going strong.

Into the last hour of trading on Wall Street, the Dow was up well over 100 points at 15,528, moving within 1.5% of its highest ever level. The S&P 500’s gains were more modest, advancing 0.42% to 1753.6, while the NASDAQ 100 rose 0.60% to 3366.1.

With economic data today not being neither particularly encouraging nor discouraging, the gains appear to be fuelled by hopes of extended stimulus from the Fed.

With inflation still anchored below target, and economic growth nothing more than modest even before we factor in the drag of the government shutdown, the environment certainly does seem to warrant stimulus being maintained rather than reduced, at least for the time being.

The corporate earnings seasons has been in full flow, with 47 of the 500 companies in the S&P reporting today and we will hear from a few big names after the bell tonight, including and Microsoft.

Microsoft has had a lot going on in the last quarter, with CEO Steve Ballmer announcing his forthcoming retirement, the announcement of a new strategy to become a devices and services company and a huge on-going transaction to acquire Nokia’s mobile phone business (a snip at a mere €5.4 billion). On top of that, Microsoft has been facing a prolonged decline in global PC shipments which must have had a significant impact on its Windows division.

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