S&P 500 hits record high, dollar gains as Irma weakens

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/leSTz1dejiw/dollar-shares-up-in-asia-on-relief-at-north-korea-inaction-idUSKCN1BL147 NEW YORK (Reuters) - A global equity index and the S&P 500 surged to record highs on Monday, spurred by relief that Hurricane Irma weakened to a tropical storm and that North Korea’s anniversary celebrations on the weekend passed without a new missile test.

Demand slipped for safe-haven assets as investors took on more risk after Irma caused less damage than initially expected and North Korea marked its founding on Saturday without new provocations.

The dollar gained while gold prices fell, as did prices of benchmark German and U.S. Treasury debt.

Ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic, Irma hit a wide swath of Florida on Sunday. While heavy flooding swamped many cities, including Miami, and millions were left without power, the state’s largest city was spared the brunt of the storm.

“For now, we’re seeing a bit of a relief rally. It does appear that the worst-case scenario for Florida has been evaded,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

MSCI’s all country world stock index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks more than 2,400 stocks in 47 countries, hit its latest peak as Europe’s insurers rose more than 2 percent .SXIP on hopes Irma’s damage would not prove as costly as feared.

The all-country index is up 14.6 percent year-to-date and the S&P 500 has gained 11.2 percent so far this year.

Major indices on Wall Street jumped more than 1 percent. All 11 major S&P sectors rose, led by gains in technology and financial stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI jumped 259.58 points, or 1.19 percent, to 22,057.37. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 26.68 points, or 1.08 percent, to 2,488.11 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 72.07 points, or 1.13 percent, to 6,432.26.

Shares of U.S. and European insurers rose, with companies particularly exposed to Florida posting sharp gains as the losses from Irma were seen as less severe than feared.

“Irma is going to be a very costly event but nowhere near what it threatened to do,” said Sandler O‘Neill managing director Paul Newsome, who expects insurers to be able to cover losses with earnings from a quarter to a year.

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