NEW YORK – U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials finishing at record highs, as investors looked to get into equities as the first quarter came to a close.
The S&P 500 recorded a quarterly advance of 10 percent, its best performance in a year, with the bull market in March beginning a fifth year, supported by easy monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and other central banks.
“Share prices are validating what has already come through in the form of corporate profits – they are at all-time highs,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
“A close over 1,565 today on the S&P 500 will surely get the media excited. It will probably get more people to move their S&P targets higher and the talk will be 1,600 is a ‘piece of cake.’ Since when was predicting the market over the short term like a walk in the park?” said Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.
After climbing to a high of 1,570.28, the S&P 500 closed up 6.34 points, or 0.4 percent, at 1,569.19.
So-called “window dressing,” where fund managers want their end-of-quarter balance sheets to reflect participation in gaining stocks, is a likely factor in Thursday’s session, according to Silverblatt.
Investors offered little reaction to largely disappointing economic reports, which had fourth-quarter economic growth revised up to 0.4 percent from a previous estimate of 0.1 percent, weekly jobless claims up by 16,000, and a gauge of business activity in the Chicago region worse than expected.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 52.38 points, or 0.4 percent, to 14,578.54. The blue-chip index, which first took out its 2007 record high on March 5, rose 11.3 percent in the first quarter.
The Nasdaq composite added 11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,267.52, leaving it up 8.2 percent for the quarter.