The S&P index closed up 7.26 points, or 0.3%, to 2,137.16 topping its previous record of 2,132.80 set on 21 May 2015.
The Dow Jones industrial average and technology-heavy Nasdaq index also performed strongly as investors digested Friday’s strong jobs data. The Dow Jones added 80 points, or 0.4%, to 18,226 points and close to its record high of 18,312.39. The Nasdaq briefly broke through the 5,000-mark for the first time in 2016, before ending the day up 0.6% to 4,989 points.
Strong market performance in the US followed gains in markets across Europe and Asia. The UK’s FTSE 100 index rose 1.4% to 6,682 points, and entered bull market territory – rising 20% since February’s low.
The UK index surged higher after Theresa May emerged as successor to Prime Minister David Cameron, removing concern over the months of possible uncertainty during a leadership contest.
The FTSE 100 has now risen by 1,145 points since it hit a 2016 nadir of 5,537 on 11 February, when investors were anxious about the low oil price and threat of global recession.
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 1.7%, France’s CAC 40 up 1.5% and Spain’s IBEX 30 was up 1.5%.
Analysts said Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from a contest that was set to last for almost two months had helped remove some of the uncertainty that has been worrying investors since the UK decided to sever its 43-year membership of the EU, and before it the EEC.
Connor Campbell of Spreadex, a spread betting firm, said: “Theresa May is clearly the market’s preferred choice for Britain’s top job, as evidenced by the reaction that greeted Leadsom’s stand-down statement. May’s lack of interest in rushing to activate article 50 and her relatively less contentious relationship with the EU when compared with her (now long gone) rivals, as well as the general cheer at the mere fact of the UK once again having a PM, is arguably responsible for the rise from the FTSE and pound, both of which improved on their morning performances.”
The FTSE 100 is now higher than it was before the Brexit vote, although that in part reflects the fact that the index contains a large number of companies with high US dollar earnings, which will now be worth more in sterling terms due to the fall in the value of the pound.
However, the FTSE 250 – which is viewed as more representative of UK business – is still below where it was before the close of trading on 23 June, when the city expected the remain side to win. The FTSE 250 was up 2% and is showing a gain of 11% since February’s low point.
On the currency markets, the pound briefly rose above $1.30 on the news that May now had no leadership challenger, but later fell back in anticipation of action from the Bank of England on interest rates.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at investment advisor Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The FTSE has been tipped into a bull market by the emergence of Theresa May as prime minister, though the whiff of some loose monetary policy coming from the Bank of England this Thursday probably helped the index over the line, too. The role played by the commodity behemoths should not be underestimated either, these stocks are now trading at much higher prices than in the depths of the market in February.
“Overall, the FTSE has proved resilient in the face of all the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote, though that really is testament to the international makeup of the index, and the long-standing faith in central bankers to come to the rescue by turning on the printing presses. If Mark Carney fails to act on Thursday, the market will be disappointed.”
This article was written by Rupert Neate in New York and Larry Elliott in London, for theguardian.com on Monday 11th July 2016 22.44 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010