Wall Street surges to new record on data

US stocks return from holiday in strong fashion, lift on news of improving data.

US stocks have closed sharply higher, with the S&P 500 again hitting a fresh record as investors welcomed a flurry of economic data.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 69.23 points, or 0.42%, to 16,675.50.

The broad-based S&P 500 lifted 11.38 points, or 0.60%, to 1,911.91, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index surged 51.26 points, or 1.22%, to 4,237.07.

The S&P 500 comfortably topped Friday's record close of 1900.53 after earlier hitting an intraday peak of 1912.28.

Driving the gains was a lift in consumer confidence, from 81.7 in April to 83 in May, as consumers appeared heartened by signs of continued improvement in the labour market.

Adding to the optimism was a closely watched report showing house prices had risen 0.8% in March from February. The news suggested the market was again finding strength after a cooling off period for the market during the frigid winter months.

Meanwhile, new orders for US durable goods lifted 0.8% in April, above expectations for a decline of 1.3%. However, a surge in defense-related orders masked an otherwise soft piece of data.

Investors also welcomed another sign of increased M&A activity as Pilgrim's Pride lobbed a $US6.4 billion bid for meat producer Hillshire Brands.