NEW YORK: US stocks pushed higher for a second week running as investor relief at higher oil prices and greater confidence over Greek debt talks and Ukraine peace prospects lifted the market.
The broad based S&P 500 finished the week with a flourish, closing at its first record of 2015 at 2,096.99 after adding 41.52 points (2.02 percent).
The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed its own threshold, breaching 18,000 for the first time this year to end at 18,019.35, up 195.06 (1.09 percent).
The tech rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 149.44 (3.15 percent) at 4,893.84.
“While investors recognize the market may be expensive, I don’t think too many people are calling for the next crisis around the corner,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.
The gains came despite some disappointing US data, especially a January retail sales report that showed a drop of 0.8 percent compared with the prior month.
That dulled some of the luster from last week’s surprisingly robust US jobs report. Yet, investors largely shrugged off the data, focusing instead on the pickup in the oil market, with US prices finishing above $50 a barrel for the second week in a row.
Investors took an optimistic view of a cease-fire roadmap unveiled Thursday between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels. Ukraine officials continued to speak cautiously of the deal as fighting raged on Friday.
They also saw reason to be optimistic about ongoing talks between Greece and the eurozone over Athens’s demand for a new bailout deal, taking cues from European markets, which rose Friday in part due to expectations that an agreement will be reached to avoid a Greek sovereign debt default.
Ablin said investors still do not know what to expect from Greece, but have become less rattled by a potential Greek departure from the currency bloc.
“Investors increasingly believe that if Greece were to leave the eurozone, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” he said. “In fact, it could catalyze growth.”