Dow, S&P close out May at record highs

 
Richard Drew / AP

Associated Press

The stock market closed out May on a mostly higher note Friday, sending two out of the three major U.S. indexes to record highs.

Trading was uneven, and indexes moved between small gains and losses for most of the day. A late push higher left the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 at all-time highs, but just barely.

May was the best month for investors since February. The S&P rose 2.1 percent for the month, while the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 percent and the Nasdaq rose 3.1 percent.

“This market may have been choppy earlier in the year, but the trend is higher,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, a market strategist with Voya Investment Management, formerly known as ING Investment Management.

The Dow rose 18.43 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 16,717.17, less than two points above its previous record high set on May 13.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,923.57, also closing at a new record. The Nasdaq composite, however, fell 5.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,242.62.

On Friday, investors had two somewhat disappointing reports on the U.S. consumer to interpret.

The Commerce Department said consumer spending unexpectedly fell 0.1 percent in April, the first drop in that indicator in a year. Economists expect the drop to be temporary, however. Consumer spending jumped 1 percent in March.

“It is obvious that after an unseasonably colder January and February, consumers came out with a vengeance in March,” Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight, said in a note to clients. “So, April’s poor showing on the spending front is payback for a strong March.”

In a separate report, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell more than analysts were expecting. The index fell to 81.9 in May from 84.9 in April. Economists had expected 82.8.

Next week will be heavy with economic data. The May jobs report comes out June 6. Economists expect the U.S. economy created 220,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent, according to FactSet, a financial information provider. The European Central Bank will also have its interest rate policy meeting that day.

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