Shares extend gains late into trading session

The major US stock indices veered upward in afternoon trading on Wall Street today, pushing the S&P 500 into a position where it could well close at a record level.

It’s been a quiet last few trading days, with quite a bit of talk about the Fed without any significant market movement, but half-way through the week the stock market has started to become swayed not by the Fed but more by sentiment surrounding the retail sector.

Macy’s share price rocketed more than 9% today after the department store chain beat estimates for both earnings and revenue when it reported for its third quarter. Alongside last week’s strong October sales figures from Gap, Macy’s robust performance has raised hopes for how holiday shopping might look this year. With bellwether Wal-Mart set to report tomorrow, retailers could yet shape the Dow’s performance for the rest of the week.

Wal-Mart is so large that it accounts for roughly 10% of non-automotive US consumer spending and with US retail sales rising 0.4% at the core level in September, we might expect that to have given a fillip to Wal-Mart. Earnings of $1.13 per share are expected on revenue of $116.88 billion, although the company has missed earnings estimates for the last two quarters.

With just over half an hour to the close on Wall Street, the Dow was trading up 0.19% at 15,780, while the S&P 500 had risen 0.47% to 1776.0, close to an intraday record set earlier in the session and well above its closing record high of 1771.95.

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