Dow sets record-high close

The Dow rose to a record high close while U.S. stocks kept their upward momentum Wednesday following Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony to gradually raise interest rates.

Yellen’s speech was a nod to Wall Street as the Fed signaled it will gradually tighten policy and gradually unwind its massive balance sheet. A neutral interest rate level refers to one that neither encourages nor discourages economic activity.

The rate-sensitive S&P 500 real estate index .SPLRCR was among the strongest in the benchmark index, posting a 1.3 percent gain, its biggest one-day percentage gain in about four months. Technology shares also rose sharply, with the tech index .SPLRCT also up 1.3 percent.

The dovish sentiment from the Fed at the same time put the S&P 500 financials .SPSY, which tend to benefit from higher rates, last among sectors, ending with just a gain of 0.1 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 123.07 points, or 0.57 percent, to close at 21,532.14, a record high. The Dow also hit an intraday record.

The S&P 500 .SPX gained 17.72 points, or 0.73 percent, to 2,443.25 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 67.87 points, or 1.10 percent, to 6,261.17.

Stocks held their gains after the Fed’s latest Beige Book report showed that the U.S. economy grew at a “slight to moderate” pace over the last several weeks across all regions.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 81 new highs and 69 new lows.

About 6.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 6.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.



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