U.S. stocks scale new peaks on retailer results; oil falls

Thu May 25, 2017 4:52pm EDT
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two top U.S. equity indexes scaled record peaks on Thursday after strong earnings reports from retailers, outpacing European shares which were little changed, while oil prices plunged after top crude producers extended output cuts for a shorter period than expected.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes hit record intraday and closing highs, with the benchmark S&P 500 index touching 2,418.71, after retailers such as PVH Corp (PVH.N: Quote) and Sears (SHLD.O: Quote) surged on strong results. The S&P consumer discretionary index .SPLRCD closed up nearly 1 percent.

European shares struggled for direction, with investors hunting for fresh catalysts as a blistering earnings season that helped stocks surge to new highs nears its end.

"There's no clear and present danger on the horizon," Jimmy Chang, chief investment strategist at Rockefeller & Co in New York, said in reference to the gains in U.S. stocks. "The lack of fear, the complacency is supporting the market."

Energy shares on both sides of the Atlantic tumbled, however, after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) disappointed some investors. The S&P energy sector closed down 1.8 percent, while Europe's STOXX 600 oil and gas index closed down 1.2 percent .

U.S. crude prices plummeted as much as 5.7 percent to $48.45 a barrel, their lowest level in a week, after OPEC agreed to extend output cuts for nine months, dousing hopes for deeper, longer cuts. U.S. crude prices settled down $2.46 at $48.90 a barrel. Brent crude settled down $2.50 at $51.46 a barrel after touching a 1-1/2-week low of $51.03 a barrel.

MSCI's world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 1.95 points, or 0.42 percent, at 464.88.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid