Major stock indexes notch record highs

Last Updated Feb 10, 2017 4:24 PM EST

NEW YORK - Stocks closed at record highs for the second day in a row, as mining companies and other raw materials providers led a broad rally in equities.

Rising crude oil prices also gave energy companies a big boost. Markets also were focused on a meeting between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to close at 2,316. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 97 points, or 0.5 percent, to 20,269. The Nasdaq composite rose 19 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,734.  

Investors have focused on companies quarterly results lately as they size up corporate America’s growth prospects. Earnings are on track to mark the second-consecutive quarter of growth after a losing streak of five straight quarters. 

 “We’re about 70 percent, almost three quarters of the way through earnings season and about 75 percent of the companies have beat the targets,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab. “That’s the best number we’ve seen, in terms of beats, for the last three years.”  

Beyond earnings, investors are also eying Washington D.C. for signs the Trump administration will deliver on the promised business-friendly policy proposals that helped drive a market rally last fall, including slashing government regulations and taxes.  

Enfamil maker Mead Johnson rose 5.5 percent after it agreed to be acquired by Britain’s Reckitt Benckiser for $16.6 billion, or $90 a share. Mead Johnson, based in Glenview, Illinois, makes Enfamil infant formula and other nutritional drinks for infants and children.

Reckitt CEO Rakesh Kapoor says the deal strengthens the company’s position in “developing markets,” with China “becoming our second largest Powermarket.” Baby food is set to be one of the fastest-growing food categories in Asia, Bloomberg reported.

Skechers jumped 29 percent after the shoe company’s sales beat analysts’ forecasts.

Activision Blizzard vaulted 18.2 percent after the video game maker’s fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations. The maker of “Call of Duty,” ‘’Candy Crush” and other games was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing $7.25 to $46.98.

In a joint news conference with Abe, President Trump said the U.S. and Japan have many shared interests, including freedom of navigation and defending against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, which he called a “very high priority.”

Mr. Trump also reiterated his concerns that China manipulates it currency, predicting that “we will all be at a level playing field.”

Investors are taking cheer from Mr. Trump’s promise on Thursday to unveil a “phenomenal” tax plan in the next few weeks, without offering details. The plan is expected to include corporate and individual tax cuts. 

“The equity markets continued their onward advance buoyed by President Trump’s promise to unveil a plan to reduce corporate taxes,” analysts with KDP Investment Advisors said in a note.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 86 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $53.86 a barrel in New York. The contract rose 66 cents on Thursday. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, gained $1.07, or 1.9 percent, to close at $56.70 a barrel in London. Natural gas futures declined 11 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $3.03 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon, while heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.67 a gallon.

Bond prices fell. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.41 percent from 2.40 percent late Thursday. The dollar strengthened to 113.41 yen, up from 113.33 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.0631 from $1.0658.