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S&P 500 closes at record high, Dow tops 18,000

S&P 500 closes at record high, Dow tops 18,000

The Wall Street bull shrugged off fears of Friday the 13th and raced higher, with the S&P 500 stock index setting a new record high and the Dow topping 18,000 for the first time this year. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 8.51 points, or 0.4%, to close at an all-time high of 2096.99 beating its previous Dec. 29, 2014 record close of 2090.57. The Dow Jones industrial average added 46.97 points, or 0.3%, to 18,019.35. The blue-chip index rose above 18,000 for the first time since December 2014. The Nasdaq composite index was up 36.22 points, or 0.8% at 4893.84, a fresh 15-year high.635594119943931322-AP-FINANCIAL-MARKETS-WALL-STREET-70748234 (1)

The small-cap Russell 2000 stock index also closed at a new record, rising 6.86, or 0.6%, to 1223.13, topping its Dec. 29, 2014 closing record of 1219.11. Friday’s close means that the new-high party on Wall Street, which went on hiatus after the end of 2014, has resumed. The S&P 500 set its first record close of 2015, after 53 record closes last year and 45 record-setting closes in 2013. The Dow is now less than 35 points off its Dec. 26, 2014, record high of 18,053.71.

Stocks got a boost Friday on hopes that Greece and its creditors can hammer out a deal on the debt-strapped country’s bailout when talks resume Monday. Strong economic data out of Europe also gave markets a lift, as did a continued rebound in oil prices. U.S. crude, which is getting a boost from the Ukraine-Russia cease-fire announced yesterday, was up another 3% to $52.76 a barrel, which boosted energy shares. The S&P 500′s new high is particularly impressive because it followed a 3.10% drop in January. So far this month, the S&P 500 is up 5.11% and would be the best February gain since the 7.04% gain in February 1998, says Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst for S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Says Alex Eppstein, analyst at Schaeffer’s Investment Research: “Encouraging a risk-on attitude among investors is news that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to meet with representatives from the troika of international lenders to discuss the nation’s debt problems, with government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis telling reporters the country will ‘do whatever we can so that a deal is found on Monday.’”