US stocks rally amid Yellen’s remarks

New York, Nov 18 (IANS) US stocks traded mostly higher as investors digested comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and a batch of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday gained 12.43 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 18,880.57. The S&P 500 rose 9.59 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 2,186.53, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 33.51 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 5,328.10.

The Fed could raise interest rates “relatively soon” if economic data keeps pointing to an improving labor market and rising inflation, Yellen said in prepared remarks on Thursday.

Analysts took her comments as a clear indication that the central bank could raise interest rates next month.

According to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool, market expectations for a December rate hike were 90.6 percent.

Yellen is scheduled to testify in front of Congress later on Thursday.

On the economic front, US privately-owned housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.323 million units, the Commerce Department announced on Thursday.

This is 25.5 per cent above the revised September estimate of 1.054 million units, and is 23.3 per cent above the October 2015 rate of 1.073 million units.

In the week ending November 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 235,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’ s unrevised level of 254,000, according to the Labor Department.

The Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers increased 0.4 per cent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, on par with market consensus. Over the last 12 months, the all-items index rose 1.6 per cent before seasonal adjustment.