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S&P 500 closes at record high as earnings beat the Street

  • Caterpillar and McDonald's posted bottom line results that topped estimates, sending its shares higher.
  • This is the busiest week of the earnings season, with approximately 180 S&P 500 components scheduled to report.
  • Wall Street also set its sights on the Federal Reserve, as the central bank kicked off a two-day monetary policy meeting.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Tuesday after a slew of major companies reported better-than-expected quarterly results.

The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to hit intraday and closing records, with financials, materials and energy rising more than 1 percent to lead advancers. The index closed at 2,477.08

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 100.26 points to close at 21,613.43, with Caterpillar and McDonald's contributing the most gains.

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The Nasdaq composite rose just 0.02 percent but managed intraday and closing records. The index finished the session at 6,412.17.

Caterpillar posted bottom-line results that topped estimates, sending its shares higher.

"This is what the market needs to hear from industrial names coming in strong," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "This is the earnings week."

General Motors and McDonald's also saw their shares climb after reporting quarterly results. However, 3M posted weaker-than-expected results, sending the stock down 6 percent. Shares of 3M shaved off 73 points from the Dow.

This is the busiest week of the earnings season, with approximately 180 S&P 500 components scheduled to report. Boeing, Coca-Cola, Facebook and Amazon are set to report later this week.

Traders celebrate on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passes the 20,000 mark shortly after the opening of the trading session in New York, U.S., January 25, 2017.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders celebrate on the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the Dow Jones Industrial Average passes the 20,000 mark shortly after the opening of the trading session in New York, U.S., January 25, 2017.

"The majority of companies that have reported have beaten" the Street, said Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout. "If there is a negative in these numbers, and this was expected, is that the earnings growth rate has declined from the first quarter."

Wall Street also set its sights on the Federal Reserve, as the central bank kicked off a two-day monetary policy meeting. Investors will parse their statement for clues about the unwinding of their $4.5 trillion balance sheet and what the Fed thinks about U.S. inflation.

"Stocks should keep pushing upward until the FOMC makes the unprecedented decision to pare its balance sheet, but the pace of the ascent should slow," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.

"Those investors who have the ability to capture short term market movements should position themselves in anticipation of an extension of the rally while those who can only shift their portfolios in a manner similar to a tanker turning around in the Hudson River should start to tread more cautiously," Klein said.

The Fed, however, is largely expected to keep monetary policy unchanged. Market expectations for a rate hike Wednesday were just 3.1 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

"This is kind of the Jersey Shore version of the Fed meeting," said Matt Toms, chief investment officer of fixed income at Voya Investment Management. "The market has looked past this almost in its entirety ... as people get ready to go to the beach."

In economic news, major metro area home prices rose 5.7 percent in May, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index. Consumer confidence data for July analyst expectations.

The benchmark 10-year note yield rose to trade at 2.32 percent, while the two-year yield hovered around 1.382 percent.

"The focus is on earnings because there isn't much more to focus on. I think the market is discounting the fact that the Fed won't raise rates tomorrow," said Bob Phillips, managing principal at Spectrum Management Group. "They might raise once more this year, but ... the economy hasn't really met growth expectations since the first quarter."