U.S. stocks little changed after S&P 500 climbs to record high

U.S. stocks were little changed, following five successive records for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after data showed jobless claims declined.

The S&P 500 retreated 0.1% to 1,631.15 at 9:31 a.m. in New York after the benchmark measure set a record level yesterday for a fifth consecutive trading day.

“The risk of a melt-up in stocks is high and rising,” Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America Corp., wrote in a report to clients titled ‘Raging Bull’ today. “Positioning, price action, policy and a range-bound economy can conspire to cause an overshoot.

Applications for unemployment insurance payments decreased by 4,000 to 323,000 in the week ended May 4, the least since January 2008, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 335,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. The average over the past month was the lowest since before the last recession began.

U.S. stocks rallied yesterday, as companies forecast earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. The S&P 500 has surged 14% so far this year amid optimism central banks will continue to use stimulus to support economic growth. The equity benchmark has entered the fifth year of a bull market, fueled by three rounds of bond purchases from the Federal Reserve.

Fed Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said it is ‘‘disturbing’’ to him that ‘‘more and more is being expected of central banks.’’

‘‘We are expected to solve all the world’s problems,’’ Plosser said in an interview on Bloomberg television today. ‘‘Our fiscal authorities are not doing a very good job in any country.’’

England, Korea

In Europe, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee today left its bond-purchase program unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($584 billion), in line with all but one of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The bank also kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.5%.

The Bank of Korea cut its interest rates today. Governor Kim Choong Soo and his board lowered their benchmark seven-day repurchase rate to 2.5% from 2.75%.

About 72% of the S&P 500 companies that have released results since the start of the earnings season have exceeded profit projections, while 52% have missed sales estimates, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Dean Foods Co. and Priceline.com Inc. are among 10 S&P 500 companies reporting earnings today.

Bloomberg News

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