May 24, 2014 in Business

Year’s a grind, but S&P 500 closes above 1,900 for first time

Alex Veiga And Steve Rothwell Associated Press
 

Call it the Great Slog.

Stocks are bumbling along this year after a gangbuster 2013.

The upward grind is underscored by the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which closed above 1,900 for the first time on Friday. The index has eked out a gain of 2.8 percent this year compared with a 16 percent increase over the same period last year.

Other major indexes haven’t fared any better. The Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite are barely positive for 2014.

The market’s five-year bull run has slowed as investors become more evenly split between those who remain optimistic on the outlook for stocks and the economy, and those who think it’s time for a sell-off. Investors haven’t seen a “correction,” Wall Street-speak for a drop of 10 percent of more, for an unusually long time.

“People have been waiting for this huge correction, but as soon as we have even a little bit of a pullback, people see the value in it, and they’re jumping in,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Investment Management.

Cavanaugh believes there will be a “spring snapback” in the economy. Company earnings, already at record levels, will keep climbing and support stock prices.

The S&P 500 rose 8.04 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 1,900.53. The index first rose above 1,900 during trading on May 13, but fell back to close below that level.

The Dow climbed 63.19 points, or 0.4 percent, to end at 16,606.27. The Nasdaq rose 31.47 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,185.81.

Investors bid up homebuilder stocks following news that sales of new U.S. homes increased last month. Lennar rose $1.55, or 4 percent, to $40.54. D.R. Horton rose 92 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $23.57.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of U.S. new homes rose 6.4 percent in April after slumping in the previous two months.

On Friday, investors favored stocks that stand to fare better than others in a strengthening economy. Gains were led by technology, materials and consumer discretionary stocks.

Another sign that investors have been more nervous this year than last is that while the S&P 500 has ground higher, the riskier parts of the stock market, such as small-company stocks, social media and biotechnology stocks, have had sharp sell-offs. The Russell 2000, an index that tracks small company stocks, is down 3.2 percent this year at 1,126.19.

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