August 11, 2016 / 6:47 PM / 2 years ago

CORRECTED-US STOCKS-Wall St hits fresh record highs, department stores surge

(Adds dropped word to clarify number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, paragraph 10)

* Macy’s, Kohl’s top pct gainers on S&P 500 index

* Oil jumps 5.0 pct after Saudi minister comment, IEA forecast

* Indexes up: Dow 0.74 pct, S&P 0.55 pct, Nasdaq 0.54 pct

By Noel Randewich

Aug 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks hit fresh record highs on Thursday as rising oil prices and strong earnings from department stores Macy’s and Kohl’s buoyed investor sentiment.

Crude oil jumped 5.0 percent on comments from the Saudi oil minister about potential action to stabilize prices and the International Energy Agency’s forecast that crude markets would rebalance in the next few months.

The S&P energy index jumped 1.58 percent, making it the top gainer among the 10 major sectors, led by a 1.45 percent gain in Chevron.

Macy’s shares soared 18 percent, marking the best day for the department store operator in nearly eight years after it reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly comparable-store sales and said it would close 100 stores.

Kohl’s shares rose 17 percent after its quarterly profit beat estimates.

Nordstrom rose 7.23 percent ahead of its results after market closes, while J.C. Penney, which reports on Friday, surged 9.34 percent.

A stock market rally since late June has pushed the S&P 500 index up 7.0 percent in 2016, helped by better-than-expected quarterly earnings and low interest rates, but some investors are worried about high valuations.

The S&P 500’s most recent record-high close was Friday and its most recent intra-day record high was Tuesday.

“I’m a bit surprised to see us hitting record highs again,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin. “We are pretty topped out and we should move sideways for awhile.”

Robust U.S. economic data also helped on Thursday, with a report showing the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell to 266,000 from 269,000 the week earlier.

At 2:35 pm ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.74 percent to 18,633.35 points and the S&P 500 had gained 0.55 percent to 2,187.39.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.54 percent to 5,232.70.

Alibaba rose 6.06 percent after the Chinese e-commerce giant posted a 59 percent jump in quarterly revenue.

Valeant dropped 9.55 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. federal prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation on the drugmaker.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.89-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.08-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 95 new highs and 27 new lows. (Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru)

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