US stocks move higher at midday

What a week. The S&P 500 closed out Thursday's session with its fourth record close in a row as hopes for global monetary stimulus kept hopes high on Wall Street.

The new mark for the S&P 500 is 2,152.14, a 15-point improvement on its Monday close.

The MSCI world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.67 percent, at 412.03.

The Dow rose 124 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,351 at 3:11 p.m. Although history shows this to be an old bull market, stocks tend to see additional gains after reaching a new high for the first time in over a year.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMU6, +0.01% rose 5 points, or less than 0.1%, to 18,269, while those for the S&P 500 index ESU6, +0.06% gained 1.20 points to 2,147. The S&P 500 was up 13.83 points, or 0.64%, at 2,166.26.

That 18,351 is 39 points higher than the Dow's closing high in May a year ago.

Overnight in Asia, equities performed quite well, with the Nikkei 225 up 0.85% and the Shanghai Composite index 0.37% higher.

That optimism spilled over into Wednesday, with the S&P setting a new record of 2,156.45 and the Dow hitting 18,390.16. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were last at 1.476 percent after hitting a 1-1/2-week high of 1.531 percent Tuesday as higher yields attracted buyers.

"We had a couple of good data points and on that basis the market has continued to grind higher", said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in NY.

Oil drillers and other energy companies are rising on a jump in oil prices.

Despite the latest round of positive figures, most still don't anticipate the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate until the end of the year.

The Dow is up 359.67 points, or 2 percent.

Seagate Technology surged $5.26, or 21.8 percent, to $29.35 after forecasting strong sales. Allergan rose 1.4 percent, after CNBC reported that its merger deal with Teva was expected to be approved in the next two weeks.

ASIAN GAINS: South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.7 percent. And indications from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that that country is prepared to provide more economic stimulus also buoyed markets. While he has released few details, investors are betting he'll keep flooding the markets with money by expanding bond purchases using newly printed money in a program known as quantitative easing. The euro inched up to $1.1117 from $1.1114 and the dollar rose to 105.67 yen from 104.33 yen.

Meanwhile, August natural gas was unchanged at US$2.74 per mmBTU, August gold jumped $8.30 to US$1,343.60 an ounce and September copper contracts rose three cents to US$2.24 a pound.

Brent crude, a standard for worldwide oil prices, rose 73 cents to $46.98 a barrel in London.

STORES SLUMP: Arts and crafts chain Michaels fell $1.63, or 5.5 percent, to $27.25 after a disappointing forecast.

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