The Standard & Poor’s 500 index delivered its fourth record high in five days Friday, ending with the biggest monthly gain since February.
The milestone-crushing run capped a week when the S&P eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for the first time. And the index ended August with a gain of 3.7 percent.
Six months of solid job gains, strong company earnings and a bevy of corporate deal news contributed to the rally, part of a bull market that’s been rumbling on for more than five years.
The market appeared ready for a correction at the end of July, but the downturn didn’t last long. For most of August, stocks have managed to shake off geopolitical conflicts from Ukraine to Gaza and Iraq.
"The market has a good underlying tone," said Mike Levine, portfolio manager of Oppenheimer Equity Income Fund. "People feel like the economy is gaining some strength and the job market is getting better and corporate earnings should be pretty good."
Even in a quiet day of trading ahead of the Labor Day holiday, stocks eked out a gain.
The indexes opened higher, but eased soon after, as investors digested news that consumer spending fell and income growth slowed in July.
Traders also had their eye on the conflict in Ukraine, as a group of European Union foreign ministers accused Russia of invading the eastern region of the country and said Moscow should be punished with more economic sanctions.
The markets began to recoup some losses by midmorning, however, when a gauge of consumer sentiment indicated greater optimism in August, particularly among higher-income groups. Some better-than-expected company earnings also lifted stocks.
Overall, the indexes wavered between small gains and losses throughout the afternoon.
"We’re seeing a listless, pre-holiday market," said Drew Wilson, an investment analyst at Fenimore Asset Management.
The S&P 500 index finished up 6.63 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,003.37.
The S&P 500 closed above 2,000 for the first time on Tuesday and has gained 8.4 percent this year. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 18.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,098.45. The Nasdaq composite added 22.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,580.27.