NEW YORK - Major U.S. stock indexes climbed again on Thursday and set fresh record highs, bolstered by data showing U.S. labour market strength, as a month-long rally since the presidential election of Donald Trump rolled on.
Investors have driven up equities since Trump's Nov. 8 election over optimism about domestic economic stimulus and reduced corporate taxes and regulations.
Supporting the upbeat sentiment was a report that showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell from a five-month high last week, pointing to labour market strength that underscored the economy's momentum.
Financials, among the major gainers since the election, led the way again on Thursday, rising 0.9 per cent.
"This is just a continued melt-up post-election. The path of least resistance has been higher," said Jason Ware, chief investment officer with Albion Financial Group in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"Seasonally, you have a strong period. You have money coming out of the bond market ... so that money has to go somewhere," Ware said.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.72 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 19,606.34, the S&P 500 gained 2.68 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,244.03 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.15 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 5,399.91.
LONDON - European shares rose to their highest in eleven months on Thursday as the European Central Bank's unexpected decision to cut its monthly asset purchases helped banks extend their rally.
The ECB said it would cut its asset purchases to 60 billion euros per month from next April from the 80 billion euros, but promised protracted stimulus to aid a still fragile recovery.
Strong risers among other European banks included Spain's Santander, Societe Generale and Credit Suisse all up more than 3 per cent.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.2 per cent to its highest since Jan. 6, also helped by gains in other cyclical sectors such as miners and autos.
Cyclical stocks got a further boost last month after Donald Trump won the race for the White House, fuelling expectations of big fiscal stimulus in the world's largest economy.
Both Germany's DAX and France's CAC blue chip indexes are now showing a positive performance for the year.
HONG KONG - Asia had shares hustled to one-month highs after Wall Street strode to another record and European stocks made it four gains on the bounce and the euro neared month highs as the prospect of ECB support loomed.
Risk appetite got a boost earlier when China reported upbeat trade figures, with exports and imports both beating forecasts. Resource imports were strong, a major reason prices for bulk commodities have been rising.
The resource-heavy and China-sensitive Australian market jumped 1.2 per cent, as did MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan.
A record peak for Samsung helped lift South Korea 2 per cent and Tokyo's Nikkei gained 1.45 per cent as it brushed off a disappointing downward revision to Japan's third-quarter growth.
WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX50 Index gained 26.24 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 6,916.01.