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S&P 500, Dow rise as Powell, Yellen signal confidence in recovery

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow rose on Wednesday on a boost from economy-linked financial and industrial stocks as Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen offered an optimistic view of a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The top economic officials’ prepared remarks mirrored those delivered on Tuesday before the Congress, with Yellen signaling U.S. banks look healthy enough to be allowed to pay dividends and repurchase stock. Wall Street’s main indexes have flipped between gains and losses this week as easing bond yields prompted a return to beaten-down technology stocks from energy and financial stocks that stand to benefit from a reopening economy. Adding to the positive momentum, data showed U.S. factory activity picked up in early March amid strong growth in new orders. However, supply chain disruptions continued to exert cost pressures for manufacturers, keeping inflation fears in focus. “In order for the market to bottom we need to have more fear, and I don’t feel like the market has fear right now. Everybody’s bullish about the prospects of a recovery right now,” said David Yepez, lead equity analyst and portfolio manager at Exencial Wealth Advisors. Financials and industrials added about 1.5% each, while energy jumped about 3% as crude prices rebounded from a 6% fall in the last session. At 11:54 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 284.36 points, or 0.88%, at 32,707.51, the S&P 500 was up 19.95 points, or 0.51%, at 3,930.47, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 53.11 points, or 0.40%, at 13,174.59. Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc slipped 0.6% as premarket gains fizzled out. Intel Corp edged 0.1% higher as the company, in its efforts to expand chip making capacity, announced plans to spend as much as $20 billion to build two factories in Arizona and open its factories to outside customers. U.S.-listed shares of rival Taiwan Semiconductor dropped 2.5%, while semiconductor equipment makers Lam Research Corp, Applied Materials Inc and ASML Holding gained between 3.3% and 6.4%. Bitcoin gained 3% as Tesla Inc’s chief, Elon Musk, said the company’s electric vehicles can now be bought using bitcoin and the option will be available outside the United States later this year. GameStop Corp tumbled 13% after the videogame retailer said it might cash in on a meteoric rise in its share price to fund its e-commerce expansion. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners 2.06-to-1 on the NYSE, while declining issues outnumbered advancers 1.11-to-1 on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 12 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 77 new lows. (Reporting by Devik Jain and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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