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Last updated: May 13, 2013 10:36 pm
US stocks inched higher to close at a new all-time record high as stronger-than-expected US retail sales data provided some relief to investors worried over a possible slowdown in the world’s largest economy.
The S&P 500 rose fractionally to 1,633.77 in New York, barely surpassing its previous record set on Friday. The benchmark’s move higher came after stocks had fallen as much as 0.4 per cent in the morning session, with investors weighing a report over the weekend that the Federal Reserve had begun mapping out a change in its monetary stimulus efforts.
The gains came as the commerce department said US retail sales edged up in April, after shrinking a month earlier. As stocks have soared, several economic reports had suggested to investors that potential speed bumps may slow the country’s economic recovery.
Analysts at Barclays said the data, which beat their forecasts, suggested that, “despite some softening, households have persisted with a solid pace of spending despite the [payroll] tax increases faced at the start of the year”.
JC Penney was among the strongest risers on Monday as short interest, or bets against gains in its share price, reached the lowest level since last August.
The struggling US retailer climbed 2.9 per cent to $18.24 as its shares still ranked as the 11th most shorted stock on the S&P 500, according to Markit data. Shares in the company have fallen more than 46.9 per cent over the past 12 months.
JC Penney is set to report its first-quarter earnings later this week, making it one of the last companies on the S&P 500 to do so. Analysts at Citi said it would be the first time investors would hear from Mike Ullman, who was reappointed chief executive of the company after former Apple executive Ron Johnson was ousted last month.
Despite gains on the broader market, eight of 10 sectors on the S&P 500 traded in negative territory. The materials sector fell 0.8 per cent and stood out as the worst-performing industry group on the day.
The benchmark’s information technology index was in the middle of the pack, edging fractionally lower despite receiving a boost from Apple shares.
The consumer technology company rose 0.4 per cent to $454.74, adding to its gains since the company’s shares bottomed last month at $385.10. Netflix climbed 5.4 per cent to $229.35, as shares in the home DVD delivery and internet media streaming company touched a new 12-month high.
The Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.1 per cent to 3,438.79.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.2 per cent to 15,091.68. Disney , the world’s largest entertainment group by sales, edged 0.2 per cent higher to $67.32 as US box office reports said its latest Iron Man movie remained on top of the film charts and enjoyed a second strong weekend of ticket sales.
Time Warner lost 0.1 per cent to $60.91 as The Great Gatsby movie produced by its Warner Brothers unit charted in second place after its debut in the US over the weekend.
Shares in CBOE Holdings , the parent company of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, added 0.9 per cent to $39.67. The gains followed a decision from the US Supreme Court earlier in the day that said it would not consider a dispute brought by a rival exchange that sought to list CBOE’s proprietary options contracts.
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