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Wall St edges higher at the open

Tuesday, August 26 16:01:05

U.S. stocks edged higher today, with the S and P 500 rising to a fresh record on strong consumer data, but gains were capped as investors found few reasons to make major changes to their portfolios amid a long-running rally.

The S and P breached 2,000 for the first time on Monday, and while it closed under that level it still ended at a new high. Including Tuesday's move, both the Dow and the S and P have risen in 10 of the past 13 sessions, while the Nasdaq is up for 11 of the past 13 sessions. Much of the market's recent gains have come on low volume, suggesting many traders may be reluctant to jump in at current levels.

"People aren't going to do anything too aggressive until there's some kind of catalyst, either positive or negative, and we may end up consolidating around 2,000 for a while," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. "We're still in an uptrend, but it will be tough to move significantly higher from here."

U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in August, climbing to its highest since October 2007. Separately, U.S. durable goods orders jumped 22.6 percent in July, the biggest gain on record, though the number was skewed by strong international demand for aircraft. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.8 percent.

The market's momentum is still considered intact, and the S and P's price-to-earnings ratio is within historical norms, leading many analysts to believe stocks are not overvalued. Nonetheless, pronounced further gains may be a challenge amid potential headwinds such as a reduction in Federal Reserve stimulus and a simmering conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.2 points or 0.28 percent, to 17,125.07, the S and P 500 gained 3.47 points or 0.17 percent, to 2,001.39 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.17 points or 0.09 percent, to 4,561.51. (Reuters)

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