U.S. Stocks Rally Lifts S&P 500 Above 2,000 on Economic Strength

Aug 26, 2014 4:34 pm ET

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to close above 2,000 for the first time, as reports showed the biggest ever jump in durable-goods orders and an unexpected increase in consumer confidence.

Amazon.com Inc. added 2.3 percent after the company said it’s buying video-game service Twitch Interactive Inc. in one of its biggest-ever acquisitions. Tim Hortons Inc. jumped 8.5 percent after Burger King Worldwide Inc. agreed to acquire the coffee-and-doughnuts chain in a $11.4 billion cash-and-share deal. Best Buy Co. dropped 6.9 percent after posting a same- store sales decline that was steeper than analysts had projected.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 2,000.02 at 4 p.m. in New York, after climbing as high as 2,005.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 29.83 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,106.70, also reaching an all-time high intraday. About 4.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges today, 20 percent below the three-month average.

“The 2,000 number got a lot of attention, but let’s get back to basics and see how the economy is doing,” Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co., which oversees $2 billion, said in a phone interview.

Data today showed orders for U.S. durable goods jumped 23 percent in July as bookings surged for commercial aircraft. An air show in the U.K. helped drive a 318 percent jump in plane orders, the most since January 2011. A 0.5 percent drop in orders for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft last month followed a June increase of 5.4 percent.

Consumer Confidence

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 92.4 in August, the highest since October 2007, from a revised 90.3 a month earlier, the private research group said.

The S&P 500 has advanced for the past three weeks and more than $1 trillion has been added to the value of American equities since a two-month low on Aug. 7 amid speculation central banks will continue to keep interest rates near zero even as the economy strengthens.

“I am still bullish on the U.S. market, but I do expect the S&P 500 to consolidate and slip back to 1,950-80 range as it’s due for a rest once it climbs to 2,000,” said Manish Singh, who helps manage $2 billion at Crossbreed Capital in London. “Any dip will be a shallow one. The central-bank and data narrative is still supportive of risk.”

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, the gauge of S&P options prices known as the VIX, slid 0.6 percent to 11.63. The gauge has lost 15 percent this year.

Tim Hortons

Seven of the 10 main groups in the S&P 500 increased today. Energy shares led gains with a 0.5 percent rally as West Texas Intermediate oil rose from a seven-month low. Exxon Mobil Corp. added 0.9 percent to pace an advance in the Dow.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index climbed 1.3 percent to the highest on record, completing a rebound from a 21-percent decline from February through April amid concern that earnings don’t justify their share prices.

U.S. shares of Canada’s Tim Hortons added 8.5 percent to $81.05 after rallying 19 percent yesterday. Burger King slid 4.3 percent to $31, reversing an earlier 2.5 percent gain. The hamburger chain yesterday surged 20 percent yesterday after saying it is in talks with Tim Hortons. Burger King will move its headquarters to Canada, enabling the second-largest U.S. burger chain relocate to a lower-tax country.

Premier Inc. rose 5.4 percent to $32 after forecasting full-year adjusted earnings of $1.39 to $1.44 a share, exceeding the average analyst estimate of $1.38. The purchasing network owned by health-care providers also agreed to buy software company Aperek Inc. for $48.5 million.

Amazon, DSW

Amazon.com added 2.3 percent to $341.83 after the company said said it’s paying $970 million in cash for Twitch, the online gathering place for gamers. The acquisition gives the Web retailer a forum of more than 55 million monthly active users, where people discuss games or watch others as they play.

DSW Inc., a shoe retailer, jumped 9.2 percent to $30.99 after reporting higher-than-estimated profit.

Best Buy lost 6.9 percent to $29.80 after the world’s largest electronics chain said second-quarter comparable sales fell 2.7 percent. That was steeper than the 2.2 percent drop forecast by analysts on average. Same-store sales will decline by a “low single digit” percentage rate in the third and fourth quarter, the company said.

--With assistance from Namitha Jagadeesh in London.