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Wall Street hits records again, boosted by Trump economy hopes

Wall Street’s main stock indexes rose to fresh all-time closing highs on Friday as a spike in oil prices supported energy shares and investors renewed their optimism about President Donald Trump’s economic agenda. The S&P 500 tallied its fourth straight session of gains, a day after Trump vowed a major tax announcement in the next few weeks.

The benchmark S&P 500 has surged 8.3 percent since Trump’s November 8 election, fuelled by expectations he will lower corporate taxes, reduce regulations and increase infrastructure spending. The rally had stalled amid concerns over Trump’s protectionist stance and lack of clarity on policy reforms.

“Investors were worried that the administration may have gotten off track and was pursuing other items,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

“Tax cuts have gotten put back on the front burner,” Forrest said, adding, “We are looking for gains in the economy at large from this, not just (earnings per share) gains in stocks.”

Activision Blizzard surged 18.9 percent after the videogame publisher reported higher-than-expected revenue and set a USD 1 billion share buyback programme. Its shares gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Skechers USA jumped 19.3 percent after the footwear maker’s fourth-quarter revenue beat expectations. Sears Holding soared 25.6 percent after the struggling retailer said it would cut costs by USD 1 billion and reduce debt and pension obligations by at least USD 1.5 billion this year. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.60-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.05-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 48 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 151 new highs and 22 new lows. About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, compared with the 6.7 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.