All three main U.S. stock benchmarks closed at records on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released a summary from its previous meeting that showed many policymakers arguing in favour of an additional rate increase this year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 30 points, or 0.13%, to 22,861, the S&P 500 gained three points, or 0.12%, to 2,554 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14 points, or 0.21%, to 6,601.
Federal Reserve policymakers had a prolonged debate about the prospects of a pickup in inflation during their September meeting, but many policymakers still felt that another rate increase this year “was likely to be warranted.”
Meanwhile, a report on US job openings showed a fall to 6.08 million in August from 6.14 million.
Real estate, utilities, and consumer staples were among S&P 500 sectors that posted gains, while financials were pressured by a slip in Treasury yields and industrials also fell.
Gains in Wal-Mart and Johnson & Johnson nudged the Dow Jones to another record high but declines in financials kept gains on the S&P 500 in check.
J&J added 2.1% after Jefferies upgraded the stock to “buy,” saying the company’s pharma division would help it top analysts’ profit estimates.
The consumer staples sector got a boost from gains in Wal-Mart, which rose 2.4%, as well as from Kroger, which jumped 1.7% after news that it was exploring the sale of its nearly 800 convenience stores.
Banks take the focus as JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup report results on Thursday, with analysts warning that results in the sector will largely be held back by low trading volumes, compared with a year earlier.
General Electric fell 1.6% after JP Morgan said a dividend cut was “increasingly likely” and lowered its price target on the stock.
In Asia, most shares gained on Thursday in morning session after Wall Street closed at record levels following the latest minutes from the Fed.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.45%. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi rose 0.11%, while Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.13%. Greater China markets, however, bucked the trend to edge down. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was off 0.02%. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.22%.