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US: Stocks end higher after dovish Fed comments

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished higher on Thursday, snapping a two-day skid following dovish comments from a top Federal Reserve official that shifted attention from mixed earnings.

Major indices were in the red through early afternoon but rallied after New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said central banks should "act quickly" to address economic weakness.

The remarks further boosted expectations the Fed will cut interest rates later this month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up a hair at 27,222.97.

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The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.4 per cent to 2,995.11, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.3 per cent to 8,207.24.

Mr Williams' remarks gave stocks "a little bit of a bounce," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

Mr Hogan said it is still too early in earnings season to assess overall performance but that early reports have shown a strong consumer but vulnerability in the manufacturing sector.

"You have a corporate America that's more nervous about the environment than the consumer is," he said.

Streaming video company Netflix tumbled 10.3 per cent after reporting that it added 2.7 million subscribers in the second quarter, well below expectations.

Among other large companies reporting results, IBM surged 4.6 per cent after reporting better-than-expected profits, while Honeywell International gained 3.1 per cent as it lifted some of its profit targets following a better-than-expected second quarter.

Morgan Stanley climbed 1.5 per cent following results, while UnitedHealth Group lost 2.3 per cent.

AFP