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US: Dow, S&P 500 set record highs in light volume

[NEW YORK] The Dow and S&P 500 eked out a fifth session of record closing highs on Tuesday, barely extending the market's recent rally in light volume as consumer discretionary shares gained.

The S&P 500's top percentage gainer was Zoetis, which jumped 8.9 per cent to US$43.72. Activist hedge fund manager William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Holdings has taken a new position in the animal health company, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

In the consumer discretionary space, shares of homebuilders rose after DR Horton reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and said orders jumped 38 per cent, suggesting an uptick in housing demand. DR Horton shares rose 2.2 per cent to US$23.95.

The S&P 500 has rallied more than 9 per cent from a six-month low in October, buoyed by supportive economic data and solid corporate earnings reports. For the year so far, the index is up 10.4 per cent. "The market's had a huge run, and right now it's earned the right to sit and consolidate that move," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

But sideways action "is another healthy sign" at this stage, as well as aggressive "buying at the dips," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.16 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 17,614.9, a record high close. The S&P 500 gained 1.42 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 2,039.68, also a new record. The Nasdaq Composite added 8.94 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 4,660.56.

Volume was light due to the US Veterans Day holiday. About 5.5 billion shares traded on US exchanges, below the 6.8 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.

The S&P 500 set its 40th closing high of the year, versus 45 such highs in 2013. The last time the index closed at a record for five consecutive days was in May 2013.

The S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner was Juniper Networks, down 5.7 per cent to US$20.28, a day after the company's chief executive resigned following a board review of his conduct in a negotiation with a customer.

Cable providers mostly remained under pressure for a second straight session after US President Barack Obama said on Monday that Internet service providers should be regulated more like public utilities. Time Warner Cable was down 1.3 percent at US$134.78.

NYSE advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 1,566 to 1,481, for a 1.06-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,407 issues fell and 1,239 advanced for a 1.14-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

REUTERS