Equities hit record highs, dollar weakens on gloomy data

Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:47pm EDT
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By Rodrigo Campos and Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Equity markets worldwide climbed to record highs on Friday as solid corporate earnings and an all-time peak for the Nasdaq stock index stoked investor optimism, while the dollar eased on gloomy U.S. economic data.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O: Quote), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote) and Google Inc (GOOGL.O: Quote) led Wall Street higher, pushing the Nasdaq to a second straight record closing high a day after it topped a record that had stood for more than 15 years.

The S&P 500 also notched a new closing high.

The MSCI All-Country World Index .MIWD00000PUS hit a lifetime high of 442.05, extending a multi-year rally driven by plentiful central bank funding and the global economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

"I think we're on more solid footing than the last time," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York, comparing the latest Nasdaq highs with those in 2000, just before the Internet bubble burst.

"There could be some vulnerability in some of the tech names, given the change in the value of the dollar, but I don't get the same sense that we're over-valued at these levels the way we were the last time we got here," he said.

Investor sentiment in Europe was boosted by positive updates from companies including Electrolux (ELUXb.ST: Quote) and Renault (RENA.PA: Quote). European companies are set for a bumper earnings season on the back of a weak euro and an improved economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed up 21.45 points, or 0.12 percent, to 18,080.14. The S&P 500 .SPX rose 4.76 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,117.69 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 36.02 points, or 0.71 percent, to 5,092.09.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid