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US: Dow ends at second straight record ahead of bank earnings


[NEW YORK] The Dow edged to another record close on Thursday ahead of a deluge of banking results that mark the unofficial launch of second quarter corporate earnings season.

Analysts said investors were broadly encouraged by a second day of congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who struck a more dovish note on monetary policy than some had feared.

But Ms Yellen cautioned that boosting US economic growth to the Trump administration's target of three percent would be "quite challenging," in part because of difficulty accelerating productivity growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1 per cent to end the session at 21,553.09, finishing at its second straight record.

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The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.2 per cent to close at 2,447.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.2 per cent to 6,274.44.

A handful of large companies already have reported results, but statements coming Friday from JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will begin the earnings season in earnest. Shares of all three banks rose on Thursday.

Companies in the S&P 500 are expected to report an increase of six per cent in operating earnings per share compared with the year-ago period, according to CFRA Research.

Retailer shares were strong after big-box store Target lifted its earnings forecast for the second quarter, citing improved traffic and sales trends.

Target shares jumped 4.8 per cent, Wal-Mart Stores gained 1.5 per cent, Macy's 4.2 per cent and Best Buy 2.6 per cent.

Twenty-First Century Fox slumped 3.8 per cent following a story in the Guardian that Fox's proposed £11.4 billion (S$20.3 billion) bid for satellite TV giant Sky faced tougher scrutiny from British regulators.

Delta Air Lines fell 1.8 per cent after reporting a 20.8 per cent drop in second quarter earnings to US$1.2 billion.

Tiffany rose 1.9 per cent as it named Alessandro Bogliolo, a veteran of the luxury industry, as its chief executive.