Stocks Rally To Record High

(Reuters) – Wall Street continued its record run on Thursday, powered by a barrage of strong quarterly earnings, particularly from Facebook and Verizon.

Facebook (FB.O) jumped 5.49 percent, lifting both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indexes, after the social network’s results topped Wall Street estimates.

Verizon (VZ.N) surged 6.37 percent after the company reported quarterly subscriber additions that topped estimates. The stock was the second-biggest gainer on both the S&P and the Dow, and put the S&P telecommunications index on track to post its biggest one-day percentage gain in nearly six years.

Earnings of S&P 500 companies are now expected to have climbed 9.9 percent in the second quarter, up from an 8 percent rise estimated at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

With equity markets at record levels, investors have been counting on strong earnings to justify the relatively expensive stock valuations.

“While multiples are not cheap and are expected to grow further, strong earnings are justifying these levels,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.

“The dollar, which was a headwind earlier, is now looking like a tailwind. Interest rates are low and earnings are strong. Right now, the path of least resistance is higher.”

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday and noted that both overall inflation and a measure of underlying price gains had declined.

The statement was perceived as dovish by investors, with rate futures pricing in a 38 percent chance of an interest rate hike by December, compared with a little over 50 percent chance priced in before the meeting.

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