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S&P 500 posts longest winning streak since May as stocks hit records

  • Investors also sifted through key economic data on Wednesday.
  • ADP and Moody's said that private-sector jobs grew by 135,000 in September, which is a sharp decline from August. That said, it topped the expected print of 125,000.
  • Other data released Wednesday included the ISM nonmanufacturing index, which hit 59.8 in September. Last month's print easily beat the expected number of 55.5.

U.S. stocks closed at record highs on Wednesday following the release of strong economic data.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 19.97 points to an all-time closing high of 22,661.64. The index also notched an intraday record of 22,685.94. 3M and UnitedHealth contributed the most to the gains.

The S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent to 2,537.74, notching intraday and closing records. Utilities and real estate led advancers. The S&P also extended its winning streak to seven days, its longest since May.

The index continues "to benefit from positive short-term momentum. The breakout from September's consolidation phase refreshed the uptrend, and should help stave off a pullback until later this month," said Katie Stockton, chief technical strategist at BTIG, in a note.

The Nasdaq composite advanced just 0.04 percent to 6,534.63, but still managed closing and intraday records.

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Investors sifted through key economic data on Wednesday. ADP and Moody's said that private-sector jobs grew by 135,000 in September, which is a sharp decline from August. That said, it topped the expected print of 125,000.

The report from ADP and Moody's often serves as a preview to the government's employment situation report. The latest government read on jobs growth is set for release Friday morning.

Other data released Wednesday included the ISM nonmanufacturing index, which hit 59.8 in September. Last month's print easily beat the expected number of 55.5.

"The data are strong and have been strong for a long time. But all these numbers have an asterisk because of the hurricane," said Michael Shaoul, chairman and CEO of Marketfield Asset Management. He added the numbers remain strong even after smoothing out the effects from the hurricane.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

"What really matters is the [Federal Reserve] is moving away from the specific targeting of inflation. The more data like this we get, the more likely it is we not only get a December rate hike, but some serious tightening in 2018," Shaoul said.

The major indexes all closed at record highs on Monday and Tuesday amid strong economic data.

"Volatility has also been kind of lackluster. Every day we come in and there are new highs," said Anthony Conroy, president at Abel Noser. "That said, there is more room to run higher for stocks. The economy is strong, earnings are good and volatility remains low."

Also helping stocks are renewed hopes the GOP will move forward with tax reform. Last week, Republicans unveiled sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code. The proposed changes would lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent.

Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, is not so sure the GOP will be able to move forward with this plan, however. The plan "is essentially an outline. The President is leaving it up to Congress to fill in the details that will make it a plan," he said.

"The Republicans need to make tax reform the law of the land to hold onto their slim majorities in both houses of Congress come next year's mid-term elections. They might fail as miserably on this challenge as they did on repealing and reforming Obamacare, when their majority splintered and not one Democrat in either the House or the Senate supported their effort," Yardeni said in a note to clients.