NEW YORK — A two-point gain was enough to push the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its highest level since June 2008, three months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the darkest days of the financial crisis.
The S&P 500 index closed at 1,365.74, beating its 2011 closing high by two points.
For the second day this week, the Dow Jones industrial average nudged above 13,000 then pulled back. It rose 29 points in the morning but wavered in the afternoon. The Dow dropped 1.74 points to close at 12,982.95. American Express was the leading stock among the 30 that make up the average, gaining 1.2 percent. The average hasn’t closed above 13,000 since May 19, 2008.
What will it take for the Dow to close above 13,000 and stay there? Mark Lamkin, CEO of Lamkin Wealth Management in Louisville, Ky., said it would require a surprising news event, like a huge merger or an economic report that blows past expectations.
“It needs some type of surprise, a bombshell,” he said. “We’ve had a pretty good run over the past four months. Now it’s going to take something great to keep it above 13,000.”
The two economic reports out Friday didn’t make the cut.
A consumer sentiment index taken by the University of Michigan and Reuters edged up in February to its highest level in a year. And the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes dipped slightly in January, but the figure still topped economists’ estimates.
It also said sales in the final three months of 2011 were higher than previously reported.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.77 points to 2,963.75.
Oil prices hit a nine-month high of $109.77 a barrel.
The price of oil has jumped 10 percent this month amid rising concerns about a conflict with Iran.