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US: Stocks up as chances of 2015 rate hike fade


[WASHINGTON] Wall Street opened slightly higher on Friday, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its best week this year, as investors bet the Federal Reserve would not move interest rates off near-zero levels this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 42.36 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 17,093.11 in early trade.

The S&P 500 was up 5.06 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 2,018.49 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 13.71 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 4,824.50.

The minutes of the Fed's September meeting, released on Thursday, indicated further signs of dovishness, with policymakers concerned about a global economic slowdown weighing on America, even before weak September jobs data. "It was more a case of an abundance of caution rather than worry," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. "They are actually pretty comfortable with the US economy. They don't see anything to worry about, which is a remarkable thing to say," Mr McMillan said.

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US stocks closed higher on Thursday, while global stocks rallied on Friday after the Fed minutes. US crude oil rose, while the dollar fell.

US import prices declined a smaller-than-expected 0.1 per cent in September, Labor Department data showed. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said import prices have been a major factor in keeping inflation below the Fed's 2 per cent target.

Mr McMillan expects stocks to finish the week on a high note.