Stocks Log Best 3-Day Win Streak in Almost a Year, Dow Ends Above 15000
Stocks closed near their highs Thursday, rallying for a third-straight session, lifted by a string of upbeat economic reports and following several speeches from Federal Reserve policymakers suggesting the central bank has time before it starts reducing its bond-buying.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 114.35 points, to close at 15,024.49, boosted by Boeing and Hewlett-Packard, logging its first three-day rally since late April. The blue-chip index posted its 15th triple-digit move of the 19 trading sessions in June, the most in a month since October 2011.
"If we consolidate during the next couple of sessions, the bulls need to hold the 1,600 line or this inverse head and shoulders formation will be negated," wrote Elliot Spar, market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 17.
Most key S&P sectors finished in positive territory, led by financials and consumer discretionary, while materials dipped.
Upbeat economic data from China also helped bolster sentiment. Industrial profits unexpectedly rose 15 percent in May year-on-year, defying expectations of a slowdown. Japan's Nikkei rallied nearly 3 percent, logging its biggest percentage gain in 13 sessions, while the Shanghai Composite Index finished flat.
"Any China data carries significant weight these days as investors are desperate for signs that the world's second biggest economy is still ticking along," wrote Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG.
On the economic front, weekly jobless claims fell 9,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, according to the Labor Department, largely in line with expectations. The four-week moving average for new claims fell 2,750 to 345,750. And consumer spending rebounded 0.3 percent in May, matching estimates, after a revised 0.3 percent decline in the prior month, according to the Commerce Department.
"I think it makes the Fed even more confident that they're doing the right thing," said Drew Matus, senior U.S. economist and managing director at UBS. "And if you look at these numbers, they suggest that the second quarter's going to be better than the first quarter."
And pending home sales for May soared 6 percent to hit a six-year high, according to the National Association of Realtors.
New York Fed president William Dudley said the central bank's asset purchases would be more aggressive than the timeline Chairman Ben Bernanke outlined last week if economic growth and the labor market turn out weaker than expected.
Dudley added that the recent market forecasts for an earlier rate gain are "quite out of sync" with the statements and expectations of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee. Dudley is a voting member of the FOMC.
Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell agreed that markets over-reacted to the central bank's statements on tapering.
"Market adjustments since May have been larger than would be justified by any reasonable reassessment of the path of policy," Powell said in a speech. "To the extent the market is pricing in an increase in the federal funds rate in 2014, that implies a stronger economic performance than is forecast either by most FOMC participants or by private forecasters."
Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart, meanwhile, said the U.S. economy's path will determine the fate of the central bank's bond buying, but it would be appropriate to pull back a bit if the economy performs as expected.
"There is no 'predetermined' pace of reductions in the asset purchases, nor is the stopping point fixed," Lockhart said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Kiwanis Club of Marietta. "The pace of purchases, the composition of purchases and the ultimate size of the Fed's balance sheet still depend on how economic conditions evolve."
Markets have been fixated on Fed commentary this week, after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the central bank could begin to wind down its $85 billion monthly bond purchases before the end of the year. That sent already rising yields higher and sent stocks on a roller-coaster ride.
Meanwhile, Apple hovered around the $400 level. Earlier, Susquehanna cut its price target on the iPhone maker to $440 from $480 with a "neutral" rating. The stock has declined nearly 45 percent from its all-time high in September.
Among earnings, ConAgra gained after the food producer posted earnings that edged past expectations, while revenue largely met forecasts. The company also said it is benefiting from its Ralcorp acquisition, but is facing some profit headwinds in its commercial foods segment.
KBHome edged higher after the homebuilder posted a narrower-than-expected loss and topped revenue expectations.
McCormick posted quarterly results that were in line with estimates, but the spice maker lowered its full-year earnings forecast to reflect weakness in its industrial markets.
Treasury prices extended their gains as yields tumbled to session lows following the data and after the auction of $29 billion in seven-year notes saw healthy demand.
(Read More: Why All the Bond Selling Hysteria May Be Overdone)
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Earnings from Nike, Accenture
FRIDAY: Fed's Stein speaks, Fed's Lacker speaks, Chicago PMI, consumer sentiment, Fed's Pianalto speaks, Fed's Williams speaks, NewsCorp splits into 2 companies; Earnings from Blackberry
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