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Stocks back at record highs

Stocks back at record highs
Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 7:57am

Hello again, all-time highs.

U.S. stocks opened in record territory Thursday, bouncing back from the previous day's pullback as investors welcomed comments from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dow Jones industrial average rallied nearly 151 points, or 1%, topping 15,456 shortly after the opening bell. That put the blue-chip average above the record closing high it hit in May.

The S&P 500 rose more than 1%, also topping its record closing high. The Nasdaq jumped 1.1%,.

European markets also gained around 1% in midday trading, and major Asian markets ended with big gains.

The global rise in equities is being attributed to comments late Wednesday by Bernanke, who said monetary policy would remain "highly accommodative" for the foreseeable future.

Recent moves and comments by global central banks have helped boost equities as they continue to pump more money into the system in a bid to get the economy growing.

Investors clearly viewed Bernanke's comments as good news for the markets. David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Markets in London, said the comments were not "fantastically bullish," but it may have been the lack of bad news that truly motivated the rally.

"Maybe people were expecting the worst, and when the worst didn't happen, everyone bought," he said.

The Shanghai Composite index surged by 3.2% and the Hang Seng index shot up by 2.6%.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index moved 0.4% higher after the country's central bank said it would continue expanding its balance sheet. Jones said that comments from Japan's central bank have helped to buoy international markets.

U.S. stocks finished mixed Wednesday. Stocks initially jumped after the Fed released minutes showing officials are split on when to end the central bank's controversial bond-buying program.

In economic news, the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose to a two-month high, according to the government's weekly report. But economists were quick to brush off the rise as a result of volatile number-crunching, rather than a discouraging sign for the economy.

Microsoft announced a widely-anticipated reorganization of it's business operations, including a shakeup of high-level managers, according to various reports.

Shares of Yum! Brands rose after the restaurant operator reported earnings that beat expectations.

Quarterly results are coming up Friday from mega-banks JPMorgan and Wells Fargo. Overall, earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are expected to grow 0.8% versus last year, according to FactSet.

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