Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Wall St. ends at new highs, dollar rallies

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By Michael Connor

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street stocks rose on Monday to record highs on hopes the Federal Reserve will hold off raising interest rates, while the dollar rallied and Greek bond yields jumped on worries the nation will not be able to make its debt payments.

Oil prices retreated, as supply worries triggered by advances by Islamic State militants in Iraq eased. U.S. Treasuries were weaker.

Gains in U.S. stocks were helped by weak economic data and a rise in Apple Inc shares and took the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indices of top U.S. companies to new closing highs. That was a third straight all-time high close for the S&P 500 and the best for Dow since its previous record finish of 18,288.63 on March 2.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 26.32 points, or 0.14 percent, to 18,298.88, according to preliminary data. The S&P 500 closed ahead 6.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,129.2 and the Nasdaq Composite added 30.15 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,078.44.

“It’s becoming more of the collective thought that the Fed can wait, because you really don’t see any blistering growth,” said Kurt Brunner, a portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.

The dollar was last up 1.2 percent at $1.1310 against the euro, which had risen more than 8 percent against the greenback in the previous month. The dollar index was last ahead 1.13 percent.

A recent run of softer-than-expected U.S. economic data has encouraged bets that the Fed will hold off on its first interest rate hikes in nearly a decade, and that has interrupted several months of dollar gains against key world currencies.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said Monday that, while a rate hike could come as early as June, rates should start rising early in 2016. Evans is among the Fed’s most dovish members, generally in favor of looser policy.

Greek two-year sovereign bond yields rose about 300 basis points and topped 24 percent as investors fretted the country would be unable to make a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund next month.

“Greece is running on fumes and the risk of non-payment of some form is riding high … These are desperate times and desperate stakes,” Rabobank fixed income strategist Richard McGuire said.

The country made a May 12 payment to the IMF only by emptying an IMF holding account, and a leaked IMF memo acknowledged Greece had little chance of making a scheduled June 5 payment. Many in the market say the next two weeks will be crucial for the country.

Ten-year Treasury yields rose and last stood at 2.2267 percent, reflecting a price decline of 25/32.

Brent crude settled 54 cents lower at $66.27, after hitting a high of $67.88. U.S. crude futures ended down 26 cents at $59.43 a barrel. The rallying dollar and news Saudi Arabia had reported its highest crude exports in nearly a decade also weighed on prices.

(Reporting by Michael Connor in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Meredith Mazzilli)




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