The S&P 500 closed for the first time last night at the 5000 level in another record session in New York.
The index, which houses America’s largest companies from Microsoft and Apple to General Electric and Coca-Cola, rose to an all-time high of 4,999.
This was due to strong corporate earnings from companies such as Ford, which increased its first-quarter dividend and reduced investments in electric vehicles.
Wall Street has also been buoyed by enthusiasm for artificial intelligence (AI) and signs that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting interest rates.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the tech-heavy Nasdaq also rose.
Record High: The S&P 500 rose to an all-time high of 4,996, thanks to strong corporate earnings from companies like Ford, which increased its first-quarter dividend.
The FTSE 100 fell 0.7 per cent, or 52.26 points, to 7,628.75 and the FTSE 250 fell 0.4 per cent, or 66.81 points, to 19,104.53.
PZ Cussons shares fell to their lowest level in more than 15 years after the owner of Imperial Leather soap warned on profits and cut its dividend.
The group, whose brands also include Carex hand soap and St Tropez self-tanning, has been rocked by the volatility of the Nigerian currency.
Revenue fell 17.8 per cent to £277m in the six months to December 2 as it lost £94m, having made a profit of £40.5m in the same period of the year former.
It cut its interim dividend by 44 per cent to 1.5 per share, and the shares fell 16.4 per cent, or 21 pence, to 107 pence, their lowest level since 2008.
The naira was devalued in June last year as Nigeria attempted to reform its multiple exchange rates, and PZ Cussons chief executive Jonathan Myers said this had been the “most significant challenge” it had faced.
He warned that it was “difficult to foresee a significant rebound.” Packaging company Smurfit Kappa recommended increasing its final dividend by 10 per cent after its second-best results in its 90-year history: £9bn of revenue and £1.7bn of profits in 2023. It rose by 3 .6 per cent, or 102 pence, to 2972 pence.
Advocacy group Babcock expects another year of revenue growth but failed to improve its forecast and fell 8.9 per cent, or 41.6p, to 424.2p.
Ashmore, the asset manager focused on emerging markets such as Colombia, India and Saudi Arabia, rose 0.4 per cent, or 0.8 pence, to 211.4 pence after strong half-year results, with profits up 38 per cent. cent to £74.5 million in the six months to December 31.
Magazine publisher Future sank after the group behind Marie Claire, Country Life and Four Four Two reported a slow start to the year in digital advertising, and fell 7.4 per cent, or 53p, to 665p .
Irish conglomerate DCC said third-quarter profits were higher than the same period a year earlier.
The company, which focuses on energy, healthcare and technology, has spent £45m on acquisitions since November. The shares rose 0.6 per cent, or 34 pence, to 5,794 pence.
Rental demand remains “exceptionally high”, according to Grainger – rising 1.9 per cent, or 5p, to 266p.
The residential landlord said its rental growth rose 8.3 per cent in the four months to the end of January, up from 7.7 per cent in the 12 months to September 30.
Mike Ashley’s fashion empire has strengthened its grip on Boohoo. Frasers Group, owner of Sports Direct, Flannels and Jack Wills, increased its stake from 21.49 per cent to 22.09 per cent.
It rose 0.3 per cent, or 2p, to 801p, while Boohoo fell 1.1 per cent, or 0.38p, to 35.03p.
Zinc Media, the television production group behind the BBC series Putin vs The West expects record revenues and profits by 2023.
It also said it had started this year with its highest level of advance bookings. The shares gained 6.3 per cent, or 5p, to 84.5p.
Coventry technology company Aurrigo (up 5.4 per cent, or 5p, to 97.5) has signed a deal for its automatic baggage-handling robots to be used at Munich Airport.
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