US stocks close for Christmas at record highs
US stocks continued their record-breaking run Tuesday, closing before a Christmas break at a new all time high following solid reports on durable goods and new home sales.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both hit their highest ever levels, rising 62.94 points (0.39 percent) to 16,357.55 and 5.33 (0.29 percent) to 1,833.32 respectively.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 6.51 (0.16 percent) to 4,155.41.
Investors were cheered by a report showing orders of durable goods surged 3.5 percent in November, more than expected.
And, although new home sales in November declined slightly from the October level, the figure still bested expectations.
"It’s a holly, jolly data Christmas for the economy as all signs point to an accelerating economy," said economist Joel Naroff.
The S&P 500 is up more than 28 percent since the start of the year, a rally sustained by the US Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy and generally better economic data.
And the market's latest big run-up came despite last week's decision by the Fed to scale back stimulus because of the better economy.
Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, called the data "positive" and said overall sentiment remains strong.
"The market has had a good year," James said. "There is no reason for people to be selling things today, so why sell?"
Electric-car manufacturer Tesla Motors rose 5.5 percent after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed a five-star safety rating for Tesla's Model S vehicle.
American Express rose 0.4 percent after reaching settlements to resolve charges it overbilled customers. The credit card company will pay $16.2 million in fines and at least $59.5 million in customer remediation.
Social networking company Twitter surged 8.4 percent higher on improving sentiment. The company also rose 7.6 percent Monday.
Retail giant Target lost 0.3 percent following reports that US and state regulators are investigating a data breach at stores that Target has said could have affected some 40 million customers nationwide.
The yield on a 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.98 percent from 2.93 percent, while the 30-year increased to 3.90 percent from 3.84.