US stocks rose to record highs overnight for the first time since January 26.

Led by tech and utilities companies, the benchmark S&P 500 index surpassed its previous intra-day record of 2,872.87. It closed up 0.2 per cent at 2,862.96.

The rally to new highs almost coincided with an even bigger milestone for stocks: After the market closes on Wednesday, this bull market will officially become the longest in history, as measured by its ascent from the low it set during the recession in 2009.

Stocks rebounded after a correction in February, a 10 per cent drop from its previous high that was only the fourth of this bull market.

The plunge took the Dow Jones industrial average down by more than 1,000 points, the most ever, and wiped out investment products that had profited from the low volatility that prevailed in markets for most of last year.

US stocks have been supported this year by strong earnings growth, even in the face of trade disputes, turmoil in emerging markets, higher interest rates, and other factors that created volatility at various times during the year.

S&P 500 earnings grew 23 per cent in the first quarter, the strongest pace in seven years.

Nearly all S&P 500 companies have reported second-quarter earnings.

And according to FactSet, the current trend puts more companies than ever on pace to report higher profits than analysts expected.

“This bull market has been breathtaking, with stocks having risen over 300 per cent since the start,” said Kristina Hooper, the chief global market strategist at Invesco.

“I agree that valuations in general have become stretched; however, corporate earnings have been strong, and I believe US stocks are likely to continue to outperform in the shorter term given the strength of the US economy and the perceived safety of US stocks in the midst of trade wars.”


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