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US: S&P 500, Nasdaq end at record highs after solid earnings

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[NEW YORK] The S&P 500 and Nasdaq jumped to all-time records on Tuesday following a barrage of mostly positive earnings reports that boosted confidence in the economic outlook.

The broad-based S&P 500 finished at 2,933.68, up 0.9 per cent and three points above the previous record in September.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.3 per cent to 8,120.82, also a record, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6 per cent, rising to 26,656.39, leaving it about 170 points short of its own all-time high.

Investors had been cautious heading into first-quarter earnings period, owing to expectations for an overall drop in profits.

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But a broad range of companies charged higher on Tuesday following earnings reports, including defense giant Lockheed Martin, soft drinks company Coca-Cola, toymaker Hasbro and social media company Twitter.

The strong results have lifted expectations that stocks could continue to rise, even after an almost unbroken climb higher throughout 2019 so far.

"We are now seeing more signs of solid economic growth, as well as indications that companies not only are reporting better than expected first-quarter earnings, but also are continuing to guide for modest earnings growth throughout 2019," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist at Edward Jones.

Not every company that reported results pushed higher. Procter & Gamble reported better-than-expected profits and a solid five per cent increase in organic sales, but still shed 2.7 per cent. Briefing.com attributed the drop to profit-taking.

Harley-Davidson dropped two percent after reporting a 26.8 per cent decline in first-quarter earnings, due in part to the continued hit from European tariffs. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday cited the company's plight in vowing to retaliate against the EU.

But department store chain Kohl's surged 12 per cent after announcing it was expanding a pilot programme at 100 stores to accept returns for Amazon items.

Kohl's will offer the programme at all of its more than 1,150 locations nationwide starting in July.

AFP