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S&P 500 touches record high, equals longest-ever bull run

By April Joyner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 touched a record high on Tuesday and equaled its longest-ever bull-market run, buoyed by strong earnings reports in the consumer sector and relative calm in the trade dispute between the United States and China.

The S&P 500 (.SPX) rose as much as 0.6 percent to a record intraday high of 2,873.23 points, topping its previous record high of 2,872.87 on Jan. 26, though it closed below both those marks.

Late in the day, stock market futures fell after U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, saying he made payments to influence the 2016 election at the direction of a candidate for federal office.

"The stock market loves the Trump agenda. Anything that's damaging to Donald Trump's agenda is not going to be good for the stock market," said Stephen Massoca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

The index's bull-market run is now 3,452 days old and on Wednesday would become the longest such streak in history, at least for some market watchers.

Trade-sensitive industrial stocks rose for the fourth consecutive session as investors remained optimistic the United States and China could move closer to settling their trade dispute. The S&P 500 industrial index (.SPLRCI) rose 0.8 percent.

The S&P consumer discretionary index (.SPLRCD) climbed 0.9 percent as shares of off-price retailer TJX Companies Inc (TJX.N) rose on strong results and Toll Brothers Inc's (TOL.N) encouraging quarterly report boosted shares of homebuilders.

"We've got good momentum, which is fundamentally justified by the strong economy and better earnings," said Kevin Caron, senior portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey. "Investors still seem relatively optimistic about growth, and you're seeing that expressed in the market today."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 63.6 points, or 0.25 percent, to 25,822.29, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 5.91 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,862.96 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 38.17 points, or 0.49 percent, to 7,859.17.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index (.RUT), which is less affected by global tariff disputes than its large-cap peers, ended the session up 1.1 percent at a record closing high.

The S&P 500 energy index (.SPNY) rose 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 materials index (.SPLRCM) gained 0.4 percent, in tandem with higher prices for oil and metals.

Helping commodity prices was a drop in the dollar after Trump said he was "not thrilled" with the Federal Reserve for raising rates and that the central bank should do more to help him boost the economy.

The criticism came ahead of the release of the Fed's minutes of its August policy meeting on Wednesday, which is expected to reaffirm its confidence in the U.S. economy and its commitment to future rate hikes.

Toll Brothers shares jumped 13.8 percent after the homebuilder reported better-than-expected quarterly results. Shares of its industry peers PulteGroup (PHM.N), Lennar (LEN.N) and D.R. Horton (DHI.N) also rose between 3.8 percent and 5.5 percent.

TJX shares climbed 4.7 percent, ending the session at a record closing high, after the retailer topped quarterly comparable-store sales estimates and raised its full-year earnings forecast.

But shares of Coty Inc (COTY.N) tumbled 7.1 percent after the beauty products maker missed sales estimates for the first time in six quarters.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.88-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.32-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 164 new highs and 32 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 5.86 billion shares, compared with the 6.49 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

(Graphic: S&P 500 sets new all-tme high: reut.rs/2LdK88Q)

(Reporting by April Joyner; additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Susan Thomas and Chris Reese)