Stocks continue higher with S&P 500, Dow hitting new records

U.S. stocks powered to new highs on Thursday, as investors shrugged off trade tensions between the world’s two largest superpowers.

All of Wall Street’s major indexes reported firm gains, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) notching its second straight record close. The blue-chip index surged 251.22 points, or 1%, to 26,656.98.

The broader S&P 500 Index (NYSEARCA:SPY) gained 0.8% to close at 2,930.75, which was also a record high. Ten of 11 primary sectors contributed to the rally, with consumer staples, materials and technology leading the advance.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (NYSEARCA:QQQ) jumped 1% to 8,028.23.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (NYSEARCA:VXX) edged slightly higher on Thursday. The so-called “fear index” climbed 1.2% to 11.87. On a scale of 1-100, the VIX is trading well below the historic average.

In economic data, U.S. jobless claims declined last week to their lowest in nearly five decades, underscoring the health of the domestic recovery. The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits declined by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 201,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Home sales continued to disappoint as affordability constraints put a damper on first-time buyers. Existing home sales flat-lined in August, averaging 5.34 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. Analysts had forecast a gain of 0.3%.