Stocks Close Higher For Sixth Consecutive Session

Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, extending their recent winning streak to six sessions. With the continued upward move, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.

The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow rose 70.53 points or 0.3 percent to 21,082.95, the Nasdaq advanced 42.23 points or 0.7 percent to 6,205.26 and the S&P 500 climbed 10.68 points or 0.4 percent to 2,415.07.

The continued strength on Wall Street was partly due to upbeat earnings news from some big-name retailers, which helped offset some recent concerns about consumer spending.

Electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY) also showed a substantial move to the upside after reporting first quarter results that beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines.

Shares of Sears (SHLD) also saw significant strength after the department store operator reported a narrower than expected first quarter loss on revenues that exceeded estimates.

Traders also continued to respond positively to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting, which included an outline of a plan to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.

Nearly all policymakers expressed a favorable view of the approach, which was seen as consistent with the intention to reduce the Fed’s securities holdings in a gradual and predictable manner.

Under the proposed approach, the Fed would announce a set of gradually increasing caps on the dollar amounts of Treasury and agency securities that would be allowed to run off each month.

Only the amounts of securities repayments that exceeded the caps would be reinvested each month, the minutes said.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Labor Department showed a slight uptick in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended May 20th.

The report said initial jobless claims inched up to 234,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 233,000. Economists had expected…

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