Stocks gained for a third day on Friday, lifting the S&P 500 to a record finish, as Hewlett-Packard surged and new home sales in April rose more than expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 63 points higher and the Nasdaq rose 31 points. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to pierce the 1900-point barrier and close at 1900.53, eclipsing its May 13 closing high of 1897.45.
Volume was slim as many traders left early ahead of the three-day holiday weekend, with Wall Street closed on Monday for Memorial Day.
"The housing numbers were good today, so maybe that is helping a little bit. But it's such a thin market that any news that comes out has an expedential effect because people are looking for anything to trade on," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.
Richard Drew / AP
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. The S&P 500 closed at a record high as strong new home sales figures drove up stocks.
Home builders including Lennar, D.R. Horton and PulteGroup advanced after the Commerce Department reported sales of new homes rose 6.4 percent in April, halting two months of declines.
"We've had generally weaker housing numbers over the last two months; we'll probably see manufacturing lead the economy as opposed to housing, that shift will likely occur over the next six months to a year," said Paul Nolte, senior vice president, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
"The market is still holding up well in the face of bad global news like China slowing, and earnings have been so-so at best. We're still correcting the big run-up from last year by trading sideways," Nolte said.
Hewlett-Packard shares rose over 6 percent after posting quarterly results and saying it could reduce its workforce by as many as 16,000 more jobs as part of CEO Meg Whitman's effort to turn the personal computer maker around.
The dollar rose against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the 10-year Treasury yield used in figuring mortgage rates and other consumer loans fell 3 basis points to 2.535 percent.
Oil futures rose 61 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $104.35 a barrel; gold futures dropped $3.30, or 0.3 percent, to $1,291.70 an ounce, down 0.1 percent for the week.
First published May 23 2014, 6:43 AM