U.S. stocks continued to march higher Thursday, with the Nasdaq carving out fresh intra-day record highs, as investor enthusiasm following the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy update on Wednesday spilled over into a second session.
On Wednesday the Fed announced that it would leave interest rates unchanged, but Chairwoman Janet Yellen indicated an interest-rate hike is likely by year’s end as she expressed confidence in the U.S. economy. Also, a better than expected jobless claims report, in which claims for unemployment fell to their lowest level since July, signaled a strong labor market and helped extend the optimism on Wall Street.
The Nasdaq advanced 44.34 points, or 0.84%, to 5,339.52, notching all-time intra-day trading highs during the session. This followed a record close for the Nasdaq on Wednesday.
The S&P 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.65%, to 2,177, with more than 90% of the stocks in the index trading higher. Telecom, consumer discretionary and industrial stocks led the charge. Bolstering the risk appetite for stocks was a rally in crude-oil prices which advanced 1.68% on the day to $46.10.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped by nearly 99 points, or 0.54%, to 18,392, with 28 of 30 blue-chip companies trading higher. Procter & Gamble (PG) +1.34%, Disney (DIS) +1.09%, United Technologies Corp. (UTX) +1.01%, and Boeing (BA) +1.00%, and led the advancers.
The fact that the Fed saw no need to raise interest rates certainly gave equity markets something to cheer in the last two trading sessions. The on-going low-rate environment has been boosting stocks and other riskier assets for years, and should continue to give support to yield sensitive sectors such as utilities and consumer staples.