CLOSING UPDATE: Markets Edge Higher, Snapping Two-Day Decline, Helped by Fed Past, Future

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Stocks closed most higher Wednesday, building on small, mid-day gains supported by optimism new Federal Reserve Chairwoman-designate Janet Yellen will continue the central bank's monetary stimulus for the U.S. economy. Markets also responded positively to this afternoon's release of minutes from the Fed's Sept. 18-19 policy-setting meeting, indicating voting members on Federal Open Markets Committee chose to keep their massive bond-buying program in place largely because of the uncertainty resulting from a Congressional standoff over the federal budget and debt.

According to those minutes, "most participants" on FOMC believe the Fed should start tapering its bond purchases before the end of the year, with the panel concluding economic growth and the labor market have improved significantly since it began the $85-billion-per-month program in September 2012. Still, many FOMC members were worried whether those gains would be sustainable, especially if Congress - as ultimately happened - was not able to agree on legislation authorizing new government spending past Oct. 1 or again fought over raising the nation's debt limit.

As expected, President Obama today formally nominated Yellen to take over as the Fed chair when the incumbent Ben Bernanke retires at the end of January. In brief remarks this afternoon, Yellen said the central bank still has more work strengthening the recovery,"particularly for those hardest hit by the Great Recession."


Most industry sectors in the S&P 500 ended with small gains, led by technology and utility stocks. Financial shares also advanced, helping keep the broader market gauges in the black throughout most of the afternoon. Shares of energy companies ended slightly lower, unable to break into positive ground following steep declines for the price of crude oil in commodities trading after the government's weekly inventory report found an unexpectedly large build in supplies. Gold and silver also ended lower.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 26.45 (+0.18%) to 14,802.98

S&P 500 up 0.95 (+0.06%) to 1,656.40

Nasdaq Composite Index down 17.06 (-0.46%) to 3,677.78

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index down 0.63%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.62%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.44%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) MW, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers ( JOSB ) makes a $48 per share cash offer for the rival men's apparel retailer - with MW later rejecting the $2.3-billion offer.

(+) MG, Reports Q1 results that beat expectations and affirms prior forecast for FY14 revenue.

(+) AA, Reports Q3 EPS of $0.11, ex-items, beating the analyst consensus by $0.06 per share. Revenue was largely in-line at $5.8 billion.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) ARIA, FDA puts a partial hold on new patient enrollments in clinical trials of its Iclusig drug candidate after some patients suffered from serious side effects including blood clots and other cardiac problems.

(-) CYTR, Prices public offering of 10 million shares of common stock at $2.25 apiece.

(-) LRN, Announces lower-than-expected 2014 revenue guidance, triggering a downgrade to Neutral from Robert Baird.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 MTNewswires.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.



This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: JOSB

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