RPT-BRIEF-Mikhail Fridman's fund L1 Retail to buy Holland & Barrett for 1.8 billion stg- FT
* Mikhail Fridman's fund lL Retail to buy Holland & Barrett for 1.8 billion stg- FT Source http://on.ft.com/2sQOafR
* Dow, S&P 500 in line for record closing highs
* Bernanke comments ease fears of stimulus cuts
* Microsoft gains, reorganization expected
* Indexes up: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 1 pct, Nasdaq 1.1 pct
By Alison Griswold
NEW YORK, July 11 U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday, putting the S&P 500 within range of an all-time closing high, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke once again said monetary policy will remain "accommodative" for some time.
More than 85 percent of shares on the New York Stock Exchange were higher on Thursday, led by gains in materials and technology shares.
Bernanke sparked a rally in equity futures Wednesday night after he said the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent overstated the health of the job market and noted inflation was still below the Fed's two percent target.
"His speech last night was much more dovish than most people anticipated," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
"The negative side of that is that they keep sending conflicting signals, and it does spasm the market up and down."
Advanced Micro Devices Inc jumped 8.3 percent to $4.31 and was the S&P 500's top performer after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded it to "buy" from "underperform." The PHLX semiconductor index rose 1.6 percent.
The market has recently rebounded from a selloff begun in late May after Bernanke first raised the prospect of an earlier-than-expected reduction in the Fed's bond buying program. By the June 24 close, the S&P 500 had fallen 5.8 percent from its May 21 all-time closing high of 1,669.16.
Coming off the Fed chairman's latest comments, the benchmark index is poised to retest that record.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 130.97 points, or 0.86 percent, at 15,422.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 16.36 points, or 0.99 percent, at 1,668.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 39.02 points, or 1.11 percent, at 3,559.78.
The benchmark S&P 500 has risen 3.3 percent over the past six sessions, its longest winning streak since early March, on optimism over improving economic data, anticipation of a better-than-expected earnings season and reduced concern about cuts to the Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.
Data from Thomson Reuters showed that analysts expect S&P 500 companies' second-quarter earnings to have grown 2.5 percent from a year ago, with revenue up 1.5 percent.
Celgene Corp, up 7 percent to $133.86, was among the top performers for both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 after the company said a late-stage trial of its cancer drug Revlimid met the main goal of improving survival in newly diagnosed blood cancer patients.
Microsoft Corp rose 1.3 percent to $35.17 after the company announced a reorganization it said will allow the software maker to deliver multiple devices and services as a single company.
NEW YORK, June 25 Insurer Assurant Inc's shares could double because it is emphasizing fee-based businesses while lowering its exposure to its riskier underwriting business, according to a report in Barron's.