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US: Wall Street ends higher as Dow edges to latest record

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[NEW YORK] The Dow edged up to its ninth record closing high in a row while the S&P ended slightly higher on Monday, with consumer and technology sector gains offsetting losses in energy.

Yet trading volume was relatively light as investors had little reason to make big bets with the US Congress and President Donald Trump on vacation and a stronger-than-expected earnings season drawing to a close.

"Today there's a lack of conviction either way. There's no reason to be a seller yet and there's no reason to be a buyer at these levels as earnings season winds down and you don't have much in the way of economic news this week," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.

Some investors were looking into underperforming sectors, including retail, anticipating a lift from in-store back-to-school shopping, according to Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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"What you're really seeing is very minor sector rotation," said Mr Meckler.

Robust second-quarter earnings have boosted the broader market in recent weeks and a strong July employment report on Friday added to positive sentiment.

Analysts, on average, expect S&P 500 earnings to have expanded 12 per cent in the second quarter and project earnings up 9.3 per cent for the September quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

However, the recent run-up has also sparked concerns about stretched valuations.

The S&P, which is up about 11 per cent this year, is trading at 18 times expected earnings, compared to its 10-year average of 14, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25.61 points, or 0.12 per cent, to close at 22,118.42. The last time the Dow had nine straight record closes was in February when it boasted 12 in a row.

The S&P 500 climbed 4.08 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 2,480.91 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.21 points, or 0.51 per cent, to end at 6,383.77.

The S&P's consumer staples index, up 0.7 per cent, and its technology index, up 0.6 per cent were the benchmark's leading sectors on the day.

In coming days, investors will scrutinise quarterly results from retailers in light of competition from online retailer Amazon.com.

Wal-Mart shares were up almost one per cent. Tyson Foods, one of the consumer staples sector's biggest boosts on the day, rose 5.7 per cent after the number one US meat processor reported greater-than-expected quarterly profit and sales.

The energy sector led the laggards with a 0.9 per cent drop as oil prices edged lower on a rebound in production from Libya's largest oil field, along with worries about higher output from Opec and the United States.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-one ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.07-to-one ratio favoured advancers.

About 5.29 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges compared with the 6.13 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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