S&P, Dow hit record as health, transport stocks rally (update)

NEW YORK: The Dow and S&P 500 extended their run of record high closes for a fourth session on Monday, led by transportation and healthcare shares.

The Dow Jones transportation average jumped 1.3 percent, also closing at a record high, led by railroads and airlines. Union Pacific rose 1.8 percent to $120.90, among the top gainers on the S&P 500, while JetBlue jumped 4.2 percent to $13.09.

Results late Friday from Berkshire Hathaway showed profit from the BNSF railroad rose about 5 percent. Berkshire's Class B shares added 1 percent to $145.05.

Oil prices extended recent losses, with U.S. crude below $78 a barrel, helping airlines and some consumer names.

"We're making new highs, volatility is low and that suggests investors are complacent enough to buy stocks at those highs. Interest rates are still low, oil prices are low and everything looks conducive to more strength between now and the end of the year," said John Kosar, director of research with Asbury Research in Chicago.

S&P health care climbed 1 percent, led by Abbvie, up 3.7 percent at $63.79, the biggest percentage gainer in the S&P 500.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.81 points, or 0.23 percent, to 17,613.74, the S&P 500 gained 6.34 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,038.26, and the Nasdaq Composite added 19.08 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,651.62.

The third-quarter earnings season has nearly ended, but a handful of high-profile retailers have yet to report. Wal-Mart, due to report Thursday, climbed 0.9 percent to $79.44.

The Dow and S&P 500 have each risen more than 7 percent over the past three weeks, the best three-week performance for both indexes since October 2011.

"International investors are finding solace in U.S. stocks because it's a way to benefit from the rising dollar," said Robbert Van Batenburg, director of market strategy at Newedge USA LLC in New York.

Cable providers' shares fell after U.S. President Barack Obama said the Federal Communications Commission should reclassify broadband to regulate it more like a public utility. Comcast lost 4 percent to $52.95 and was among the most actively traded Nasdaq stocks. Time Warner Cable fell 4.9 percent to $136.50.

On the Nasdaq 100, the largest gainer was Baidu, up 4.7 percent at $247.58, while the largest decliner was Charter Communications, down 6.2 percent at $146.62.

The CBOE Volatility index ended down 3.4 percent at 12.67, its lowest in nearly two months.

About 6.1 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, below the 7 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.- Reuters
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