US stocks end higher for fifth day

Business | 11 Jan 2019 1:52 pm

U.S. stocks bounced back from a rocky start on Thursday, recording their fifth straight gain.

Macy’s suffered its biggest loss of all time, putting a drag on retailers. But industrial companies rallied after U.S. negotiators said China had agreed to buy more energy and agricultural products and manufactured goods.

The S&P 500 index gained 0.5 percent to 2,596.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5 percent to 24,001.92 and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.4 percent at 6,986.07.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 0.5 percent to 1,445.43.

In a speech on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed that the central bank has the "ability to be patient” with its plans to gradually raise interest rates. He echoed the tone of Fed officials who were present at a meeting last month.

Minutes of the meeting, which were released a day earlier, showed the officials believed that the central bank could afford to be "patient” with rate hikes, given volatile stock markets, trade tensions and shaky global growth.

A market-sensitive Fed is reassuring to investors who fear its tightening policies would send the U.S. economy into recession.

"The sentiment pendulum has swung from U.S. recession fears to optimism for a dovish Fed and positive US-China trade talks. The return of risk appetite, in turn, has pressured the U.S dollar lower,” DBS Group Research strategists Philip Wee and Eugene Leow said in a commentary.-AP

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