The Standard & Poor’s 500 index delivered its fourth record high in five days Friday, ending with the biggest monthly gain since February.
The milestone-crushing run capped a week when the S&P eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for the first time. And the index ended August with a gain of 3.8 percent.
Months of solid job gains, strong company earnings and a bevy of corporate deals contributed to the rally, part of a bull market that’s been rumbling on for more than five years.
The market appeared ready for a correction at the end of July, but the downturn didn’t last long. For most of August, stocks have managed to shake off geopolitical conflicts from Ukraine to Gaza and Iraq.
“The market has a good underlying tone,” said Mike Levine, portfolio manager of Oppenheimer Equity Income Fund. “People feel like the economy is gaining some strength and the job market is getting better and corporate earnings should be pretty good.”
Even in a quiet day of trading ahead of the Labor Day holiday, stocks eked out a gain.
The indexes opened higher, but eased soon after, as investors got the news that consumer spending fell and income growth slowed in July.
Overall, the indexes wavered between small gains and losses throughout the afternoon.
“We’re seeing a listless, pre-holiday market,” said Drew Wilson, an investment analyst at Fenimore Asset Management.
The S&P 500 index finished up 6.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,003.37. It closed above 2,000 for the first time Tuesday and has gained 8.4 percent this year.
The gains marked the index’s best August since 2000.
“It’s been a good August,” said Linda Duessel, senior equity market strategist at Federated Investors. “I imagine it’s the end of the month and people closing their books are saying ‘I better show I’m invested, we had a brand-new high this week.’ ”
Nevertheless, some investors may grow hesitant next month. September is widely considered the stock market’s worst.
Since World War II, the S&P 500 index has ended the month with a loss half of the time. Recently, however, September has been good to investors. Last year, investors saw an array of threats lined up after Labor Day, including a fight over the federal budget and a possible U.S. attack on Syria. The result? The S&P 500 gained 3 percent in September.