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S&P, Dow Close at Record Highs as U.S. Economic Strength Trumps Global Fears


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record highs as fears of a global slowdown that weighed on markets at the beginning of October were eased by strong U.S. economic data, corporate earnings and a dovish policy stance taken by foreign central banks.

U.S. stocks surged Friday after the Bank of Japan unexpectedly increased its annual stimulus targets by 10 trillion yen to 80 trillion yen. The Nasdaq opened at a 14-year high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit new record highs in Friday trading.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high of 2,017, finishing up 1.14% for the day. The Nasdaq closed up 1.41% to levels not seen since the dot-com bubble burst. The Dow, after touching an intra-day record, closed at 17,373, up 1.03%.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks

Watch the video below for a look at the week ahead on Wall Street:

The BOJ's surprise move came just days after the Fed formally ended its monthly bond purchases, which supported U.S. financial markets in recent years. The BOJ previously had targeted annual stimulus of between 60 trillion to 70 trillion yen.

International markets surged on the BOJ’s stimulus increase, which wasn't expected by economists. Japan's Nikkei 225 surged almost 5% in trading on Friday, while the Euro STOXX 60 and FTSE 100 rose over 1%.

The U.S. dollar surged more than 2% vs. the Japanese yen to 111.97, while gold continued an October plunge, falling over 2% to 1,171 per troy ounce. Oil continued to tumble, with Nymex West Texas Intermediate Crude falling less than 1% to $80.59 a barrel.

The IT sector led the S&P 500 higher, while utilities were the only industry group trading lower.

Oil giants Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) beat third-quarter earnings estimates, as did drugmaker AbbVie (ABBV) . Starbucks (SBUX) , however, came up short with its third quarter earnings.

In economic data, personal income rose 0.2% in September, slightly less than the 0.3% rise economists had expected. Personal spending, meanwhile, unexpectedly fell 0.2% in September after rising 0.5% the previous month. That data, however, didn't impact the rise in U.S. stock markets.

That represented the largest drop in spending this year. Friday's economic calendar also included Chicago PMI for October, which spiked to a reading of 66.2, far exceeding forecasts of a reading of 60. The University of Michigan final sentiment index for October was 86.9, slightly exceeding consensus of 86.4.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks

On Thursday, U.S. stock markets surged after the Commerce Department said U.S. gross domestic product rose 3.5% in the third quarter.

GDP growth in the U.S. hit its strongest six-month pace since the financial crisis, while the four-week average of initial jobless claims in October was the lowest in a decade. U.S. gross domestic product grew 3.5% in the third quarter, beating economists' estimates.

Growth and employment data bodes well for the upcoming holiday season, especially if consumer confidence holds up amid falling gasoline prices. Earlier this week, the Conference Board said consumer confidence reached a seven-year high.

October's rally accelerated even after the Federal Reserve confirmed on Wednesday it was ending its monthly bond purchases, and was beginning to see signs that the U.S. economy was turning from underutilization. Those comments give investors reason to believe the central bank may begin increasing short-term interest rates within a year.

After the worst weekly sell-off to begin October, markets have rallied through the second-half of the month and closed nearly 4% higher.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

Follow @AntoineGara

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DOW 17,390.52 +195.10 1.13%
S&P 500 2,018.05 -2.75 -0.14%
NASDAQ 4,630.7410 +64.6030 1.41%

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