May 25, 2017 / 12:35 AM / 4 months ago

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

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

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) and Sears (SHLD.O) 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 .SXEP.

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.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI closed up 70.53 points, or 0.34 percent, at 21,082.95. The S&P 500 .SPX closed up 10.68 points, or 0.44 percent, at 2,415.07. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC ended up 42.23 points, or 0.69 percent, at 6,205.26.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.04 percent at 1,540.78.

The dollar was little changed against a basket of major currencies a day after Federal Reserve minutes dialed down expectations of the central bank hiking interest rates soon. Many investors and strategists expect Fed rate hikes to boost the dollar.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six rival currencies, was last roughly flat at 97.224 .DXY.

“The minutes sort of made it clear that the Fed wasn’t going to be reducing its balance sheet anytime real soon, and the response was negative for the dollar,” said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly on the doubts over whether the Fed would raise interest rates more than once by the end of 2017. Bond yields slipped into the lower end of this week’s tight trading range with the benchmark 10-year yield hovering around 2.25 percent US10YT=RR.

U.S. gold futures GCcv1 settled up 0.3 percent at $1,256.40.

Additional reporting by Nigel Stephenson and Christopher Johnson in London and Caroline Valetkevitch, Hilary Russ and Richard Leong in New York and Howard Schneider in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli

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