By Aaron Kuriloff and Riva Gold
The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched higher Friday to notch its seventh consecutive record close.
Friday’s gain ended a week in which signs of economic growth and improving corporate earnings helped push major U.S. indexes to multiple new highs, some investors said.
The Dow industrials, S&P 500 and Nasdaq (NAS:NDAQ) Composite all notched weekly gains of at least 1.5%, spurred by hopes for tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and increased government spending that several analysts said could boost corporate profits.
“Investors this week have seen strong economic data and statements from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen supporting the idea that growth is reasonably good,” which should help lift earnings, said Paul Quinsee , global head of equities at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
The blue-chip index rose 4.28 points, or less than 0.1%, Friday to 20624.05, posting its biggest weekly gain since Dec. 9 with a 1.7% climb. The S&P 500 edged up 3.94 points, or 0.2%, Friday to 2351.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 23.68 points, or 0.4%, to 5838.58. All three indexes closed at new highs.
On Friday, Verizon Communications (NYS:VZ) led gains in the Dow industrials, rising 73 cents, or 1.5%, to $49.19.
Shares of Kraft Heinz soared 9.37, or 11%, to 96.65, the most in the S&P 500, after the company said it has made a bid to merge with U.K. consumer-products giant Unilever (NYS:UL) , whose London-listed shares jumped 13%.
Energy shares in the S&P 500 fell 0.5% Friday to finish the week 2.1% lower. Some analysts said a glut of gasoline, brought on by a decline in U.S. consumption, threatens the yearlong rally in crude prices.
Financial stocks led weekly gains in the S&P 500, climbing 3% despite Friday’s decline of less than 0.1%.
Some investors said that with stocks at records, questions remain about the prospects for policies such as increased government spending and corporate-tax adjustments that have fueled stocks’ record run and prompted selling in government debt since the U.S. election.
“We see expensive valuations and slightly exuberant sentiment, which is making us take a little step back and sell some equities,” said Wouter Sturkenboom , multiasset investment strategist at Russell Investments, which manages $258.1 billion in assets.
Prices of U.S. government bonds rose Friday, sending yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.425% from 2.450% Thursday.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose less than 0.1% Friday, increasing its weekly gain to 0.8%.