* Dow's 3rd day of triple-digit point gains - a first since
early Oct 2011
* S&P 500 posts best three-day run since January
* Investors laud remarks by Fed's Dudley
* ConAgra surges after raising its outlook
* Dow up 0.8 pct, S&P 500 up 0.6 pct, Nasdaq up 0.8 pct
By Alison Griswold
NEW YORK, June 27 U.S. stocks climbed for a
third straight day on Thursday after comments from several
Federal Reserve officials soothed concerns that the central bank
would begin to reduce its stimulus efforts in the near future.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed back above 15,000
for the first time since June 19. The Dow scored its third
consecutive day of triple-digit point gains for the first time
since Oct. 4-6, 2011.
The rally helped the S&P 500 post its best three-day run
since January after three Fed policymakers sought to downplay
the notion that the central bank would bring an imminent end to
its accomodative monetary policy, known as quantitative easing.
"I think the Fed is trying to delicately prepare the markets
for an eventual ending of QE3," said David Carter, chief
investment officer of Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.
"The Fed has bent over backwards to introduce this huge
program over the past few years to get the economy going. The
last thing the Fed wants to do is pull the plug too fast and
have the economy go down the drain."
Thursday's advance was again broad-based. Nine of the 10 S&P
500 industry sectors gained, with financials, industrials and
consumer discretionary shares leading the way. Stocks also got a
lift from economic data showing a decline in weekly jobless
claims and improvements in consumer spending and income.
Volatility erupted in the stock market after Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke said last week that the central bank could begin to
reduce its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year
and end the program altogether by mid-2014 if economic
On Thursday, William Dudley, president of the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York, said the Fed's asset purchases would
be more aggressive than the timeline Bernanke had outlined if
U.S. economic growth and the labor market prove weaker than
Dudley stressed that slowing the pace of the Fed's bond
buying would depend not on calendar dates but on the economic
outlook, which remained unclear.
While the S&P 500 remains more than 3 percent below its
all-time closing high of 1,669.16 reached on May 21, it has
rallied 2.6 percent over the past three sessions after numerous
Fed officials have sought to calm markets roiled by expectations
of tighter monetary policy.
Volume was about average as some 6.3 billion shares changed
hands on U.S. exchanges. More than 80 percent of stocks traded
on the New York Stock Exchange advanced.
Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart
echoed Dudley's comments, saying the pace of the Fed's purchases
remained contingent on evolving economic conditions.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 114.35 points
or 0.77 percent, to end at 15,024.49. The S&P 500 gained
9.94 points or 0.62 percent, to finish at 1,613.20. The Nasdaq
Composite added 25.64 points or 0.76 percent, to close
Hewlett-Packard was the Dow's best performer,
advancing 3.2 percent to $24.77. Bank of America also
ranked among the Dow's top gainers, adding 2 percent to $13.01.
A separate report showed consumer spending rose 0.3 percent
last month while incomes grew 0.5 percent, the largest gain
since February. Pending home sales rose 6.7 percent to their
highest since December 2006.
ConAgra Foods Inc rose 5.1 percent to $35.04. The
stock was the S&P 500's third-best performer after the food
manufacturer reported a quarterly profit slightly above Wall
Street's estimates and raised its long-term outlook.
Time Warner Cable jumped 4.4 percent to $108.22 as
John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, sounded out options for
cable operator Charter Communications to acquire its
larger rival, according to a Bloomberg report.
The SPDR Gold Trust ETF hit a 52-week low at $115.65
in the wake of gold's slide to its lowest level in almost three
years. The price of gold dropped more than 2 percent to below
$1,200 an ounce on Thursday, while the SPDR Gold Trust ETF lost
2 percent on heavy volume. With about 29 million shares traded,
volume was more than double the daily average of 12.7 million
over the past 50 days.