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US: Wall St ends at records on central bank action

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US stocks closed higher on Friday, with major indexes notching a fifth straight weekly advance after China's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate and its euro zone peer announced asset purchases in efforts to boost each region's economy.

[NEW YORK] US stocks closed higher on Friday, with major indexes notching a fifth straight weekly advance after China's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate and its euro zone peer announced asset purchases in efforts to boost each region's economy.

The gains were broad on a day when both the Dow and S&P 500 ended at closing records. All ten primary S&P 500 industry sectors ended the day higher, while 63 per cent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed in positive territory. About 50 per cent of Nasdaq-listed names were higher on the day.

The People's Bank of China said it was cutting one-year benchmark lending rates for the first time in more than two years.

The move came after European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said "excessively low" inflation had to be raised quickly by whatever means necessary, rekindling expectations the ECB will move to stimulate the euro zone economy. The ECB said it started buying asset-backed securities to encourage banks to lend and revive the economy. "It isn't the size of the moves but the shock value of the direction that is really lifting markets today," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, which manages about US$67 billion in assets."This is a one-two punch for global growth." The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91.06 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 17,810.06, the S&P 500 gained 10.75 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 2,063.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 11.10 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 4,712.97.

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Both the Dow and S&P ended at records. For the week, the Dow rose 1 per cent, the S&P added 1.2 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 0.5 per cent. It was the fifth straight weekly advance for all three.

Gains in the Nasdaq were limited by declines in large-cap tech companies. Microsoft Corp fell 1.5 per cent to US$47.97 while Netflix Inc slid 2.1 per cent to US$360.28.

GameStop Corp sank 13 per cent to US$37.86 a day after the video game retailer posted quarterly revenue and earnings well below expectations. The stock was the biggest decliner on the S&P 500.

The benchmark index's biggest gainers were Ross Stores and Autodesk Inc, both of which rallied after results late Thursday. Ross jumped 7.3 per cent to US$89.27 while Autodesk was up 6.1 per cent to US$61.95.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners 2,029 to 1,039, for a 1.95-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,461 issues rose and 1,286 fell, for a 1.14-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 96 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 111 new highs and 44 new lows.

About 6.5 billion shares traded on all US platforms, according to BATS exchange data, above the month-to-date average of 6.35 billion.

REUTERS

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