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US: Apple, banks push Wall Street to all-time high

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 06:33

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[BENGALURU] Major US stock indexes established record highs on Tuesday, led by bank stocks after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it would be unwise to wait too long to raise interest rates.

Apple racked up a record high close for the second straight session, contributing to gains in the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite indexes.

Ms Yellen said delaying rate hikes could force the US central bank to tighten monetary policy quicker down the line, which could risk a recession. She also expressed uncertainty over economic policy under the Trump administration.

Banks, expected to gain from higher interest rates, led the market higher. Goldman Sachs rose 1.29 per cent and Bank of America added 2.82 per cent. The S&P 500 financial index jumped 1.24 per cent.

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So far in 2017, the KBW banking index has increased 4.5 per cent.

President Donald Trump's pro-business stance sparked a record-setting rally in stocks following his November election. However, he has given scant detail on his policies, leaving the Fed with limited visibility about the economy's future direction.

Speaking to the US Senate Banking Committee, Ms Yellen did not indicate whether the Fed still planned to raise rates three times this year, nor did she indicate whether a hike might come in March or in June, as most analysts expect.

"With the new president, there is still the uncertainty of the economic policy," said Jeff Carbone, co-founder of Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"How much growth we get out of the market will affect policymaking and how quickly they need to react."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.45 per cent to end at 20,504.41 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.40 per cent to 2,337.58.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.32 per cent to 5,782.57.

Ms Yellen's comments lifted the US dollar and US Treasury yields.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, with healthcare adding 0.73 per cent.

Apple rose as high as US$135.09, an intraday record high, before ending with a gain of 1.30 per cent at US$135.02, its highest-ever closing price.

General Motors added 4.84 per cent after Peugeot owner PSA Group said it is in talks to buy GM's European Opel business.

The prospects of sector consolidation caused Fiat Chrysler to jump 4.39 per cent, while Ford gained 0.72 per cent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.31-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 60 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 124 new highs and 22 new lows.

About 6.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, in line with its daily average over the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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