NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks shrugged off early weakness and finished mostly higher Monday (Aug 16) setting fresh records ahead of earnings reports from large US retailers and key economic releases.

Major indices opened the session solidly lower, weighed down by disappointing Chinese economic data and rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon announce the phaseout of stimulus measures.

But equities shrugged off the early losses, with bargain hunters stepping up purchases as the session progressed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 35,625.40, up 0.3 per cent to close at a fifth straight record, finishing nearly 400 points above its low earlier in the day.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.3 per cent to 4,479.70, also ending with a fifth straight record. But the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.2 per cent to 14,793.76.

This week’s calendar features earnings from large retailers including Walmart and Home Depot, as well as US data on July retail sales and housing starts.

The schedule also includes the release of minutes from the Fed’s July policy meeting which could provide further insight on tapering the central bank’s massive bond-buying program.

Markets also are keeping an eye on the upheaval in Afghanistan, but analysts do not expect a significant impact on trading.

Among individual companies, Tesla fell 4.3 per cent as US authorities announced a probe of its Autopilot driver-assistance feature, citing 11 crashes.

Boeing was the biggest loser of the day in the Dow, shedding 2.3 per cent following the latest delay to its CST-100 Starliner test flight.