U.S. Stocks Close at Record Highs

The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday after disappointing economic data bolstered expectations that an interest rate hike is likely to come only later in the year.  Traders warned that below-average volume in recent sessions suggests that not all of Wall Street may be confident in the market’s gains.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re at an all-time high if there are just two guys trading a stock back and forth,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. “It’s something to be aware of.”  As the quarterly earnings reporting season draws to a close, volume on U.S. stock markets has been below the month-to-date average for several sessions.

On Thursday, about 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.3 billion average this month, according to BATS Global Markets.  Data showed that jobless claims rose more than expected last week, although the underlying trend continued to point to a rapidly tightening labor market.