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Dow, S&P 500 again break records

AFP-JIJI

The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 closed at new record highs Thursday on robust corporate earnings reports and the latest reaffirmation of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s easy money policy.

The Dow rose 78.02, or 0.50 percent, to finish at 15,548.54. The S&P 500 ended 8.46, or 0.50 percent, higher at 1,689.37.

The rally solidly topped both indexes’ prior closing records, set Monday, of 15,484.26 on the blue-chip Dow and 1,682.50 on the S&P 500.

The tech-rich Nasdaq index, meanwhile, eked out a gain of 1.28, or 0.04 percent, to end 3,611.28 after some disappointing earnings reports, including from Dow member Intel.

The new records followed a second day of congressional testimony from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that came and went with no bombshells. Bernanke reiterated that the central bank plans to scale back its bond-buying program, but only when the economy improves.

More companies have exceeded than lagged earnings expectations. Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ now expects second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 to rise by an average of 3.88 percent compared with the earlier estimate of 3.19 percent.

Among lenders, Bank of America was up by 3.1 percent and JPMorgan Chase by 2 percent after peer Morgan Stanley became the latest big financial company to beat earnings estimates by a large margin, leaping 4.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Dell jumped 1.9 percent after postponing a shareholder vote on a go-private proposal in the face of criticism.

However, chip-maker Intel sank 3.8 percent as declining demand for personal computers trimmed profits by 29 percent. Other decliners included Verizon, down 1.5 percent, and American Express, which shed 3.6 percent.