By April Joyner
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The benchmark S&P 500 stock index clinched its longest bull-market run on Friday, closing above its previous January high, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirmed the U.S. central bank's current pace of rate hikes.
The S&P had last reached a new closing high on Jan. 26, then retreated more than 10 percent, a correction that lasted until Feb. 8. Friday's new closing high confirmed that the index's bull run remained intact.
Speaking at a research symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell said the Fed's gradual interest rate hikes were the best way to protect the economic recovery, maintain strong job growth and keep inflation under control. His comments did little to change market expectations of a rate hike in September and perhaps again in December.
Investors said they were reassured that Powell's comments stayed in line with previous commentary from the Fed regarding policy. Economic data also boosted sentiment.
New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in July and shipments growth held firm, the Commerce Department said.
"That's what the markets wanted to hear," said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York. "The economic data and strong environment as a whole is the basis, and (Powell) didn't get in the way."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 133.37 points, or 0.52 percent, to 25,790.35, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 17.71 points, or 0.62 percent, to 2,874.69 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 67.52 points, or 0.86 percent, to 7,945.98.
For the week, the Dow added 0.47 percent, the S&P gained 0.87 percent, and the Nasdaq increased 1.66 percent.
The small-cap Russell 2000 index <.RUT> also advanced 0.5 percent to reach a new closing high.
A dip in the dollar <.DXY> after Powell's comments helped lift materials and energy stocks as the prices of oil and metals rose. The S&P 500 materials sector <.SPLRCM> jumped 1.2 percent, the biggest percentage gain among the 11 major S&P sectors.
Shares of Gap Inc
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.50-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.76-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 36 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 150 new highs and 31 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 5.43 billion shares, compared to the 6.28 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by April Joyner; additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Savio D'Souza in Bengaluru; editing by Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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Updated Date: Aug 25, 2018 03:05:16 IST