By Sue Chang, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica
Nasdaq poised to close at record for seventh session
U.S. stocks in Wednesday afternoon traded near session highs and were on track to ring up another round of records as President Donald Trump said a "massive" tax plan would be coming in the "not-too-distant future."
Equities had been trading near break-even levels earlier, but rose following the comments, which echoed Trump's pledge last week to deliver a "phenomenal" tax planthat would be revealed soon. Neither announcement was accompanied by specifics.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96 points, or 0.5%, to 20,600. The blue-chip index hit a record and, if it closes higher, it will notch a fifth straight daily advance. Procter & Gamble Co.(PG) was among the biggest boosts to the gauge, jumped after activist investor Trian Fund Management LP disclosed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/activist-investor-trian-takes-3-billion-stake-in-pg-2017-02-14)a $3 billion stake in the company.
The S&P 500 index gained 9 points, or 0.4%, to 2,347. The benchmark index was also at a record and on track for its seventh straight daily advance.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 31 points, or 0.6%, to 5,814. The Nasdaq is on pace to close at a record for a seventh session, which will match the longest such streak for the index since one ended Dec. 27, 1999 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-nasdaq-is-partying-like-its-1999-by-this-metric-2017-02-15).
"The legs of this rally are based on the expectation for dramatically less regulation and big tax reform in corporate America. There is a very high expectation for structural changes in the economy to accelerate growth," said Ian Winer, director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities.
Stocks have mostly trended higher since Trump's election in November, with investors betting that the policies he is expected to pursue will accelerate economic growth. However, the rally had shown signs of stalling of late as investors look for confirmation that the market's levels are justified by both market fundamentals and policy details.
"This is a market benefiting from 'Trump fairy dust,' and unfortunately there's a shelf life for that," said Alan Gayle, director of asset allocation and senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. "Valuations look relatively stretched--not extremely stretched--but we'll need to see progress on the political front for the momentum to be sustained."
Investors were also paying close attention to Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who is testifying (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2017/02/15/yellen-testimony-before-the-house-live-blog-and-video/) in front of the House Financial Services Committee. In her first day of testimony, Yellen on Tuesday hinted to the Senate Banking Committee that the central bank could resume a gradual raise interest rates as soon as to it is next to policy meeting in March.
Higher rates have usually deflated the market's zest for stocks, which have benefited from the low-rate environment, but Yellen's upbeat assessment of the economy along with President Trump's promises of business-friendly policies, tax cuts and deregulation of the banking sector, has underpinned recent optimism.
In the latest economic data, retail sales rose 0.4% in January (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-sizzle-in-january-2017-02-15), a faster pace than had been expected, while the Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% in the month (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/inflation-surges-in-january-by-most-in-four-years-cpi-shows-2017-02-15), the largest amount in four years, though this was largely due to a rebound in the price of gasoline.
"Markets had been comfortable that the Fed would take a more modest and gradual approach to raising rates, but with these data points coming in stronger than expected, the expectation is now that the Fed may have to raise more quickly than initially thought," Gayle said.
Opinion:A 'magic bullet' is about to push U.S. stocks higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-magic-bullet-is-about-to-push-us-stocks-higher-2017-02-14)
Some market participants have started to worry that stocks may be headed for a small correction. Joel Krüger, currency strategist at LMAX Exchange, said while it would be foolish to call a top on the S&P 500 right now, the Relative Strength Index, a momentum indicator used to identify overbought or oversold conditions in the market, bears watching.
An RSI value of 70 or above indicates overbought conditions, and right now that level is above 75 for the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq--at 80, noted Krüger. "So we are close to a minor correction at least. Sometimes that manifests with one big push before sharp reversal," said Krüger in emailed comments.
Read:Trump's stock-market rally is annihilating bears (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trumps-phenomenal-stock-market-rally-is-annihilating-bears-2017-02-13)
Stocks to watch: Fossil Group Inc. (FOSL) shares sank 17% after quarterly results got hit by currency headwinds (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fossil-shares-sink-15-following-fourth-quarter-earnings-2017-02-14) and the company released downbeat guidance.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.(HLT)(HLT) rose 1.3% after posting early results, while PepsiCo Inc.(PEP) slid 0.4% after its results.
Fortress Investment Group LLC(FIG) shares popped 28% after Japan's SoftBank Group Corp.(9984.TO) agreed to buy the asset manager for $3.3 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/softbank-bolsters-its-investment-business-with-33-billion-fortress-deal-2017-02-14). (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/softbank-bolsters-its-investment-business-with-33-billion-fortress-deal-2017-02-14)
Several stocks are in focus following fourth-quarter regulatory filings from big investors and hedge funds. Among them, billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.(BRKA) loaded up on (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/warren-buffetts-big-bet-on-apple-may-have-made-him-11-billion-in-just-six-weeks-2017-02-14)Apple Inc.(AAPL) shares, while shedding shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(WMT). As previously disclosed, Berkshire Hathaway also took on air carriers, such as Southwest Airlines Co.(LUV) and Delta Air Lines Inc.(DAL).
Billionaire hedge-fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital bought (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/einhorn-buys-syngenta-voya-apple-dumps-michael-kors-in-4th-quarter-2017-02-14)Rite Aid Corp.(RAD), Mylan Inc.(MYL) and Apple among others, while unloading a stake in Michael Kors Holdings(KORS).
Meanwhile, George Soros's hedge fund Soros Fund Management (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/george-soros-picks-up-goldman-sachs-dumps-nvidia-2017-02-14) initiated a position in Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS) and Pandora Media Inc.(P), and rimmed positions in Amazon.com Inc.(AMZN), eBay Inc.(EBAY) and Netflix Inc.(NFLX) among others.
Results from Cisco Systems Inc.(CSCO) and Kraft-Heinz Co.(KHC) and others are expected after the close of trading.
Read: Earnings previews for Cisco (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cisco-earnings-will-big-bets-on-software-pay-off-2017-02-14) and CBS (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cbs-earnings-media-company-is-fully-embracing-streaming-2017-02-14)
Other markets: Asian markets finished mostly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikkei-other-asian-markets-jump-on-yellens-bullish-comments-2017-02-14), with a 1% gain for the Nikkei 225 index and a 1.2% rise for the Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index inspired by Yellen's comments. European stocks rose, with the FTSE 100 index on track for its highest close in a month (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/financials-drive-ftse-100-to-1-month-high-after-hawkish-yellen-signals-2017-02-15).
The U.S. dollar edged lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-pauses-after-yellen-inspired-push-higher-2017-02-15), , while gold prices gained. Oil remained under pressure (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-head-lower-after-data-shows-spike-in-us-supplies-2017-02-15)after the American Petroleum Institute reported a bigger-than-expected climb in U.S. crude supplies, and data from the Energy Information Administration will be due later Wednesday.
--Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 15, 2017 15:19 ET (20:19 GMT)
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