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US STOCKS-Wall Street rises further into uncharted territory
February 15, 2017 / 8:41 PM / 10 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street rises further into uncharted territory

* Financial stocks up; rate-sensitive sectors fall

* S&P set for longest winning streak in 3-1/2 years

* Indexes up: Dow 0.53 pct, S&P 500 0.54 pct, Nasdaq 0.64 pct (Adds detail on economic data and earnings growth, Breakingviews link)

By Noel Randewich

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Wall Street pushed further into record-high territory on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 on track for a seven-session winning streak, helped by a round of robust economic data and ongoing optimism that President Donald Trump will cut corporate taxes.

Bigger-than-expected rises in retail sales and consumer prices in January reinforced confidence that the economy is growing at a solid pace following a strong fourth-quarter corporate earnings season.

In a meeting with top executives from U.S. retail companies, Trump said he would lower taxes substantially and simplify the tax code, echoing a vow he made last week and on the campaign trail.

Optimism that lower taxes and corporate deregulation will expand the economy pushed the three major indexes to all-time highs. The S&P 500 was on track for its fifth straight record close, even as some investors worried that Trump so far has provided no substantial details of his tax plan.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, stood by the stance she took on Tuesday that the U.S. central bank was on track to raise interest rates at an upcoming policy meeting.

“A year ago, if Janet Yellen had come out with the statement she made, the market would have freaked out, because the fundamentals were very soft,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. “Now, if the Fed raises rates, it’s not going to shake the world, because people are confident enough about the fundamentals.”

The healthcare index was the to gainer, up 1.24 percent.

Financial stocks, which benefit from higher rates, rose 0.85 percent. The utilities and real estate sectors, both of which do worse in high-rate environments, fell 0.45 percent and 0.16 percent respectively.

At 3:26 pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.53 percent at 20,613.5 points, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.54 percent to 2,350.27.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.64 percent to 5,819.38.

Procter & Gamble jumped 3.7 percent to a two-year high of $91.10, giving the biggest boost to the Dow and the S&P, after Trian Fund disclosed a stake, which could pressure the company to slice costs and slow-growing divisions.

Shares of Southwest, United Continental, American Airlines and Delta rose between 2 percent and 4 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported investments topping $2.1 billion in each of the carriers.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.48-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.80-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 79 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 146 new highs and 24 new lows.

Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish and Nick Zieminski

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