S&P 500 exceeds 1,800 for first time amid global rally on China

U.S. stocks rose, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:SPZ14) above 1,800 for the first time, as global equities rallied after China pledged to expand economic freedoms.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.2% to 1,801.09 at 9:32 a.m. in New York. Stocks rose for the sixth week to a record after Janet Yellen signaled she will continue Federal Reserve stimulus efforts as the central bank’s chairman. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 54 points, or 0.3%, to 16,015.96.

“There is room here to take profits from this bullish trend,” Arnaud Scarpaci, who helps oversee about $270 million at Montaigne Capital in Paris, said by phone today. “As we head towards the end of the year and next year’s debt-ceiling debate, I expect volatility to start rising. I am very cautious about the beginning of next year.”

China’s leaders vowed to allow more private investment in state-controlled industries and expand farmers’ land rights as part of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest package of economic reforms since the 1990s. New York Federal Reserve Bank President William C. Dudley and Philadelphia Fed Bank President Charles Plosser are scheduled to speak today. The Fed’s decision to maintain the pace of stimulus has helped the S&P 500 jump 26% this year.

China’s stocks rose today, with the benchmark index for mainland companies in Hong Kong surging the most since December 2011. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.5%.

“We believe China is on the cusp of a massive multiyear bull run,” Christie Ju, managing director at Jefferies Group LLC in Hong Kong, wrote in a note to clients.

While four years of earnings growth and the Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rate have led the S&P 500 on a 166% rally since March 2009, they have also driven up valuations just as the bull market approaches the end of its fifth year.

Cheap is converging with expensive in the American equity market, narrowing options for investors looking for bargains after the broadest rally on record lifted almost 90% of the S&P 500 this year. A measure of the dispersion of price- earnings ratios in the S&P 500 compiled by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. narrowed to 41% in June, the lowest on record, and held around that level since.

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