Stocks soar: Fed at it again

U.S. stocks rose, extending a record for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as Federal Reserve comments spurred optimism that the economic recovery will accelerate.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.1 percent to 1,961.47. Stock trading may be subject to unexpected swings today because of a quarterly event known as quadruple witching, when futures and options contracts on indexes and individual stocks expire.

Stocks rallied this week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen said accommodative monetary policy, rising property and equity prices and the improving global economy should lead to above-trend growth. Yellen emphasized the need to put more Americans back to work and downplayed concerns about asset-price bubbles and incipient inflation.

The S&P 500 is trading at 16.6 times the projected earnings of its members, up from 15.5 times at the beginning of the year.

The gauge has climbed for six consecutive days, its longest winning streak since April. It is up 7.9 percent since a low on April 11 as data showed the economy is recovering from the impact of extreme weather earlier this year.

Economic data

Data yesterday showed the Fed Bank of Philadelphia’s factory index unexpectedly climbed in June and a Labor Department release showed claims for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected.

The best U.S. stocks this month are ones that just a few months ago were the biggest losers. Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) and TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP) have rallied more than 16 percent in the past four weeks, recouping most of the losses from a rout during March and April. The Nasdaq Composite Index reached a 14- year high this week and the Russell 2000 Index is 2 percent from a record. Both fell at least 8 percent earlier in 2014.

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