Wall St hits fresh record high

US stocks climb on strong bank earnings, S&P 500 hits new heights.

United States stocks are comfortably higher in late afternoon trade, with the S&P 500 again touching a record high. The positive numbers came following a lift in European markets after the World Bank raised its growth forecast for the global economy.

Stocks were also aided by a robust fourth quarter result from Bank of America, which followed yesterday's strong earnings releases by fellow US banking behemoths JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The numbers released by all three banks topped analyst estimates and hinted at an improving US economy.

That view was supported late in the trading day with the release of the Federal Reserve's beige book on economic activity.

At 0730 AEDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 106.63 points, or 0.65%, to 16,480.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 9.05 points, or 0.49%, to 1,847.93, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 31.62 points, or 0.76%, to 4,214.63.

Earlier, the S&P500 hit a high of 1850.84 points, which was an intraday record. The index's record close, which was set on December 31 last year, sits at 1848.36.

The numbers mean Wall Street has now recovered all of the losses seen on Monday when traders headed for the exit on concerns about jobs growth and the tapering of economic stimulus.

The primary data release in the US was the producer price index for December, which broadly came in line with expectations. The 0.4 per cent lift for the month was, however, welcomed by investors as it helped allay fears of a deflation threat in the near-term.

Meanwhile, the World Bank yesterday said global economic growth is estimated to hit 3.2% this year, accelerating from a 2.4% annual pace in 2013.

At the same time, the report warned of potential volatility in capital flows as the US withdraws its stimulus.