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US STOCKS-Wall Street sets record closing highs on stimulus hopes, vaccine deployment

Stephen Culp
·3 min read
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(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stockmarkets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window.)

* Tesla invests $1.5 bln in bitcoin; crypto stocks jump

* Disney, Cisco, GM climb ahead of results this week

* Indexes up: Dow 0.76%, S&P 0.74%, Nasdaq 0.95%(Updates with closing prices)

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street reached all-timeclosing highs on Monday as investor optimism was stoked byprospects of a speedier economic recovery from the global healthcrisis, driven by increased stimulus and an accelerated vaccinerollout.

All three major U.S. stock indexes gained ground, with theS&P 500 and the Dow posting their sixth consecutive gains, theirlongest winning streak since August. Small-caps, set to benefitmost from the economic rebound, outperformed their larger peers.

"Investors are starting to play the economy opening up andthe vaccine starting to work," said Paul Nolte, portfoliomanager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. "And maybethey can go to a baseball game this summer."

Still, the extended rally provides some cause for concern.

"Stocks have been over-valued for much of the past year,"Nolte added. "And the things we're seeing now, with GameStop andBitcoin, those are signs of speculation, not investing."

Oil prices rose to their highest in over a year due tosupply cuts and hopes for a stimulus-driven demand rebound,helping energy stocks jump 4.2%.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said if Congress approvesthe president's $1.9 trillion fiscal aid package, the UnitedStates could return to full employment next year.

That package came closer to passage on Friday when lawmakersapproved a budget outline that would enable Democrats to muscleit through Congress without Republican support.

Vaccine deployment, meanwhile, pushes ahead in UnitedStates, with at least 32,780,860 doses administered so far, andnew infections trending lower, on average.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 237.52 points,or 0.76%, to 31,385.76, the S&P 500 gained 28.76 points,or 0.74%, to 3,915.59 and the Nasdaq Composite added131.35 points, or 0.95%, to 13,987.64.

Ten of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 ended the sessionin positive territory, with energy stocks enjoying the largestpercentage gain. Utilities were the sole losers.

The fourth-quarter reporting season has passed the halfwaymark, with 294 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported.Of those, 83% have beaten consensus estimates, according toRefinitiv.

Analysts see aggregate fourth-quarter S&P earnings posting ayear-on-year gain of 2.4%, a stark reversal from the 10.3%annual decline seen at the beginning of the year, per Refinitiv.

Walt Disney Co, Cisco Systems Inc andGeneral Motors Co were up between 1.8% and 4.9% ahead oftheir earnings reports this week.

Bitcoin touched a record high after Tesla Incannounced it had invested around $1.5 billion in thecryptocurrency and would begin accepting payment in Bitcoin forits cars and other products.

"This is really, I view it, as almost a seminal moment ...in terms of Bitcoin from a transaction perspective," said DanielIves, managing director at Wedbush Securities in Westfield, NewJersey. "I think this is really an eyebrow-raising move."

Tesla shares gained 1.3%, while cryptocurrency miners RiotBlockchain and Marathon Patent Group surged40.2% and 42.4%, respectively.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a3.20-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.56-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 42 new 52-week highs and no new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 461 new highs and 6 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 15.32 billion shares, comparedwith the 15.51 billion average over the last 20 trading days.(Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by AleksandraMichalska; Editing by Dan Grebler)