US STOCKS-Dow, S&P 500 end at record highs on stimulus hopes

Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:10pm EDT

* IBM climbs on buyback announcement and lifts Dow

* Consumer confidence sinks on worries about government shutdown

* Apple falls a day after reporting results

* Dow up 0.7 pct, S&P 500 up 0.6 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 ended at record highs on Tuesday after economic data supported views that the Federal Reserve would keep its stimulus intact for several months and IBM rallied after the company announced a stock buyback.

IBM gave the biggest boost to the Dow, which led the day's gains. The stock, which also helped drive the S&P 500's advance, jumped 2.7 percent to $182.12 after the company's board of directors approved another $15 billion for stock buybacks.

In the latest economic data, a gauge of U.S. consumer spending rose in September, but another report showed consumer confidence fell sharply in October because of worries about the impact of the partial government shutdown.

The data added to evidence of sluggish economic growth just as the Fed began a two-day policy meeting. Expectations are high that officials are unlikely to shift monetary policy this week as they wait for more evidence of how badly Washington's budget battle has hurt the U.S. economy.

"The ghosts of tapering are not coming this Halloween," said Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer for equities at Charles Schwab Corp. "The government shutdown pushed the tapering discussion further out."

That's likely to keep a floor under stocks for the near term at least, though longer term, slow growth in earnings and especially in revenue may be a concern, he said.

Limiting some of the day's gains in both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, Apple shares dropped 2.5 percent to $516.68 a day after the iPad and iPhone maker delivered disappointing results.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 111.42 points, or 0.72 percent, to end at 15,680.35, a record close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 9.84 points, or 0.56 percent, to finish at 1,771.95, also a record closing high. The S&P 500 hit another intraday record high at 1,772.09.

The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 12.21 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 3,952.34.

Tuesday's rally brings the S&P 500's gain for the year to date to 24.2 percent.

In the latest technical issue to befall the Nasdaq exchange, the Nasdaq OMX Group said human error left the exchange unable to transmit index values for nearly 45 minutes, leading to a temporary halt in options trading on some stock indexes.

The Dow also got a boost from Pfizer Inc, which rose 1.7 percent to $31.25 after the drug company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

As has been the case in recent quarters, more companies have been beating analysts' earnings expectations than revenue expectations. With results in from 281 of the S&P 500 companies, 68.7 percent have topped profit expectations, above the long-term average of 63 percent, while just 52.5 percent have beaten revenue estimates, below the 61 percent rate since 2002, based on Thomson Reuters data.

Cummins Inc slumped 5.2 percent to $127.90. It was the S&P 500's worst performer after the U.S. maker of engines and other vehicle components reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday and cut its full-year outlook.

Another decliner was JPMorgan Chase, down 0.1 percent at $52.73 after a person familiar with the situation said the preliminary $13 billion deal set by the bank's CEO and the U.S. attorney general has hit a stumbling block.

Homebuilders' shares climbed after home prices rose 0.9 percent in August, more than had been expected, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. Lennar jumped 1.5 percent to $37.38.