It was another record day on Wall Street – barely.
After spending most of Friday flat or down, stocks rallied at the last minute and closed slightly higher, just enough to post new record highs for the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
The gains were tiny. And the new record doesn’t mean much for investors, who hardly have any more money now than they did a day earlier. But it is a sign that investors believe the market’s rally this year may not be over yet.
The S&P 500 has closed higher seven days in a row. The last time it did that was in March.
Investors had to look past a pessimistic outlook from UPS, which said it was seeing a slowdown in U.S. industry. And in the afternoon, Boeing shares tanked after one of its 787s caught on fire in London, reviving fears of the troubles that plane had with smoldering batteries earlier this year.
Other economic news was mixed. Profits at Wells Fargo and JP Morgan came in better than expected, and that helped financial stocks. But a University of Michigan consumer sentiment measure came in lower than expected.
Investors will get a lot more information next week, when key reports on inflation and retail sales are due. That’s also when the pace of company earnings reports picks up sharply. Results are due from the remaining big banks as well as General Electric, Intel, Microsoft and other industry bellwethers.
“This is the jump ball, this is the LeBron James of the market,” said David Darst, chief investment strategist for Morgan Stanley Individual Investor Group, referring to the second-quarter earnings rush. “It’s going to determine where the market goes.”
Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for ConvergEx Group, thinks it’s likely that stocks will move higher, as long as second-quarter earnings reports at least match the low expectations that investors have. “The three most important things in the next couple of weeks are earnings, earnings and earnings,” he said.