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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dovish Fed minutes send US stocks up more than 1%

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks Wednesday bolted higher with tech equities leading the way after US Federal Reserve minutes showed no support for an early rise in interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 181.04 points (1.11 per cent) to 16,437.18.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 20.22 points (1.09 per cent) to 1,872.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index soared 70.91 points (1.72 per cent) to 4,183.90.

Stocks were higher through early afternoon, but rose more after the Fed minutes were released at 1800 GMT. The minutes, as expected, showed the US central bank foresees continuing the steady cutback to its stimulus program.
But they also showed there was not a groundswell of Fed powerbrokers who supported a speedy rise to benchmark interest rates.

"There's been this overriding fear in the market that tightening would be sooner on the horizon than people imagine," said Brent Schutte, market strategist at BMO Global Asset Management. "Today's minutes walk back some of those fears."
For the second day in a row, the Nasdaq outperformed the other two indices after lagging badly over the last month.
Facebook jumped 7.3 per cent, Priceline rose 4.0 per cent and Apple rose 1.3 per cent.

Biotech equities, a particularly hard-hit group of late, also did well. Celgene jumped 6.6 per cent, Biogen rose 5.2 per cent and Gilead Sciences advanced 0.9 per cent.

Merck (+3.7 percent) led the Dow, with strong gains also posted by American Express (+2.6 per cent), Visa (+2.4 per cent) and Boeing (+2.2 per cent.)

General Motors took another hit from the scandal over its delayed recall of vehicles, dropping 2.6 per cent on reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will fine the automaker $28,000 for failing to respond to questions over the recall.

Aluminum producer Alcoa jumped 3.8 per cent after earnings of nine cents per share excluding restructuring costs bested forecasts of five cents per share.

Intuitive Surgical, which works in robotic-assisted surgery, projected that first-quarter revenues would be $465 million, compared with $611 million a year ago. The company also announced a charge of $67 million to settle product liability claims against the company. Shares slumped 6.8 per cent.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury held steady at 2.68 per cent, the same level as Tuesday. The yield on the 30-year rose to 3.57 per cent from 3.54 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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