Wall Street Rises Again

Stocks ended modestly higher Thursday after Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellen indicated in a Senate hearing that she will continue to support the economy with stimulus measures.

Investors were encouraged and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 to new records.

The Dow was up 54.59 points to 15,876.20

The S&P 500 index moved up 8.62 points to 1,790.62. The Dow is now just 1% from hitting 16,000, while the S&P 500 is less than 1% from 1,800.

The NASDAQ crept up 7.17 points to 3,972.74, as a drop in Cisco shares weighed on the tech-heavy index. Even so, the NASDAQ is now at its highest level since September 2000 and is less than 1% from 4,000.

Cisco shares tumbled more than 10% after the company reported weak sales for the fiscal first quarter and issued a weak outlook for the current quarter, too.

Cisco CEO John Chambers blamed a “hard to read” economic environment, adding that the U.S. government shutdown increased the “lack of confidence among business leaders.”

Wal-Mart reported better-than-expected earnings, though the retailer missed on revenue and reported a slight decline in same-store sales in the U.S. Shares of department store chain Kohl”s plunged following poor results and a weak outlook.

The bad news from these two retailers comes one day after Macy”s ignited a retail rally thanks to its strong sales and guidance.

One observer noted that while Macy”s and even Michael Kors are still attracting shoppers, the economy otherwise is forcing consumers to keep a tight grip on their wallets. Though thanks to the ongoing housing recovery, home improvement giants Lowe”s and Home Depot are still improving.

Viacom reported a gain in quarterly revenue, driven by sales in media networks and filmed entertainment, and double-digit gains in net earnings.

Investors have been looking for clues as to when the Fed may begin scaling back its bond purchases. There has been speculation that the so-called tapering could begin as early as next month.

But during her question and answer session on Capitol Hill, Yellen said that the bond-buying program could still help the economy.

“It”s important not to remove support, especially when the recovery is fragile,” she said. “I believe it could be costly to withdraw accommodation or to fail to provide adequate accommodation.”

The comments appear to have convinced investors that Yellen would continue the Fed”s current $85-billion-U.S.-per-month bond-buying program for the next few months. The program — also known as quantitative easing or ”QE” — has helped spur stocks by pumping markets with extra cash.

Prices for 10-year U.S. Treasuries regained ground, lowering yields to 2.70% from Wednesday”s 2.72%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices faded 10 cents to $93.78 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices hiked $18.30 to $1,286.70 U.S. an ounce.

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Stock Quote and News:

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