US stocks increase as Yellen commits to stimulus

November 15, 2013 8:02 am

US stocks advanced, extending benchmark indexes to fresh records, as comments from Janet Yellen signaled she will continue the Federal Reserve’s stimulus efforts amid negative jobless claims data and trade balance.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.5% to a record 1,790.62 at 4 p.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 54.59 points, or 0.4%, to 15,876.22, also a record. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.2% to the highest level since September 2000. About 6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges today, in line with the three-month average.

“With the Yellen testimony out of the way, the market is going to be more comfortable putting capital to work,” Agam Kothari, director of equity trading at Citigroup, said to Wall Street Journal. “Now there isn’t much on the calendar, and it looks like smooth sailing until the next [jobs] report early next month.”

Yellen, nominated to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, said the central bank should take care not to withdraw stimulus, too early from an economy that is operating well below potential.

Economic data showed initial jobless claims in the week ended November 9 declined 2,000 to 339,000 from a revised 341,000 the week before that was higher than initially reported. Analysts expected a drop to 330,000. US trade balance for the month of September reported rising deficit of $41.778 billion compared to the expected $38.700 billion.

In corporate news, Western Digital Corp. gained 4.7% to a record $75.85 after the company late yesterday stated it would pay a quarterly dividend of 30 cents a share. Western Digital had paid 25 cents a share for the previous five quarters.

Eli Lilly & Co., the biggest U.S. insulin products-maker, added 1% to $51.03. The company said it will invest another $700 million into manufacturing capacity, more than tripling its investment in the expanding market for diabetes treatments.

Hewlett-Packard fell more than 5% after the company said that it will halt sales of the HP Chromebook 11 after reports that some chargers included with the small computers are overheating.

Wal-Mart Stores increased 0.2% after offsetting early stock decline after the retailing giant said its sales fell for the third quarter in a row. The company narrowed its full-year profit guidance.

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