U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a record, as investors anticipated a dovish tone from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen when she talks about the labor market in Jackson Hole on Friday.
Hormel rallied after the maker of pork and turkey products reported third-quarter results that beat expectations. Bank of America gained after agreeing to pay $16.65 billion to halt federal and state probes into mortgage-bond sales. Shares of Dollar Tree declined as Family Dollar Stores reaffirmed its support for its buyout offer, rejecting a bid from Dollar General.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks mostly advanced after minutes from the Fed’s last meeting showed some Fed officials want a “relatively prompt” rate hike based on the economy’s progress.
“Yesterday was a little surprising, especially in reaction to the release of the Fed minutes, which had a little bit of a hawkish overtone to them,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
Still, expectations of a “more dovish posture coming from Yellen” and a majority of the Federal Open Market Committee is holding sway with investors, said Luschini.
Thursday’s economic reports cast a better-than-expected light on housing, jobs and factory activity.
Data from the Labor Department had jobless claims declining by 14,000 last week to 298,000, less than expected.
Separate reports had Americans reselling their homes in July at the most rapid pace in nearly a year, and the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index rising 0.9 percent last month.
A measure of manufacturing activity in August from financial-data firm Markit came in above expectations, and the Philadelphia Fed’s business activity index jumped to 28.0 in August from 23.9 the month before.
Returning to its perch above 17,000 for the first time since July 29, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 73.46 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,052.59.
Intel paced blue-chip gains that included 28 of 30 components.
A day after closing within 0.3 percent from its intraday all-time high of 1,991.39 set July 24, the S&P 500 advanced to 1,992.41, and was more recently at 1,992.37, up 5.86 points, or 0.3 percent.
After several forays into negative turf, the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 points to 4,528.43.
Advancers ran ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 129 million shares traded by 10:40 a.m. Eastern. Composite volume approached 600 million.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures dropped $16.50, or 1.3 percent, to $1,278.70 an ounce. Crude-oil futures rose 34 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $93.79 a barrel.