Fed soothes taper fears: more record highs

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Wall Street has rallied, pushing the S&P and the Nasdaq to record closing highs for the fourth time this week, as US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's remarks at the Jackson Hole Symposium calmed fears over the tapering timetable and sent investors into the weekend in a buying mood.

All three indexes posted weekly gains.

"I see two things happening," said Mike Zigmont, head of research and trading at Harvest Volatility Management in New York. "I see a reflexive dip-buying validation and I see the market embracing a dovish Fed."

Regarding the indexes' recent string of all-time highs, including the S&P 500's 52nd record high close so far this year, Zigmont said "The march north has been very consistent. The drawdowns are super shallow, and the recoveries are very fast."

In his prepared remarks, Powell stopped short of providing a clearer picture regarding the timing of the central bank's tapering of asset purchases or hiking interest rates, the key elements of its dovish monetary policy aimed at helping the economy recover from the pandemic recession.

Indeed, Powell appeared to strike a more dovish tone than other Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) officials, including St Louis Fed President James Bullard and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, who said earlier in the day that they expect the tapering process to begin soon and wind down next year.

"The market is very happy that the Fed is pumping more liquidity into the economy every month," Zigmont added. "The Fed is enabling asset prices to climb and the market is pleased with that."

Economic data released on Friday delivered, in large part, precisely what economists expected - a pullback in consumer spending and sentiment due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, and signs that the current wave of price spikes will not morph into long term inflation, inline with Fed assurances.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 242.68 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 35,455.8, the S&P 500 gained 39.37 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 4,509.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 183.69 points, or 1.23 per cent, to 15,129.50.

Ten of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 advanced, with energy shares enjoying the largest percentage gain.

Chipmaker Nvidia's shares rose 2.6 per cent after sources said it would likely seek antitrust approval from the European Union to take over British chip designer Arm.

Workday Inc jumped 9.1 per cent as brokerages upped their price targets after the company beat second-quarter revenue estimates.

Stay-at-home darling Peloton Interactive Inc slid 8.5 per cent following its profit warning and its announcement it was being probed by US regulators over an accident involving the safety of its treadmills.

Beijing continued its crackdown on its tech companies, threatening to curb their ability to list on US exchanges.

US-listed shares of Alibaba Group and Tencent Music Entertainment fell 3.5 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively, while the Invesco Golden Dragon ETF dropped 1.1 per cent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.40-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 60 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 132 new highs and 37 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 8.67 billion shares, compared with the 8.95 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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