Wall Street up Thursday on follow-through from Fed comments

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

New York, NY, United States (AHN) – U.S. stocks opened higher Thursday as investors continued to focus on comments from the Fed and better than expected corporate earnings.

Just before 10 a.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 66 points, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 5 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ gained 12 points.

Giving stocks a boost was the Fed’s statement Wednesday that it would keep interest rates near zero at least until the end of 2014.

The comments lifted stocks and commodities globally as investors are willing to bet that more money will be driven into risk assets.

European stock indexes gained even as the hovering sovereign debt crisis is still a main concern.

Greece is still the elephant in the room. Its leaders continued Thursday with negotiations on a debt deal with private creditors in Athens.

Market participants are still very closely watching the European Central Bank after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said public sector holders of Greek debt may also need to take a haircut (losses).

Fueling stocks higher in the U.S. were strong earnings from Caterpillar Inc. and 3M, and a report that showed new orders for U.S. manufactured goods rose more than expected in December.

In commodities, oil was up $ 1.79 to $ 101.06 a barrel. Gold continued its stellar rally, rising $ 26.20 to $ 1,726.40 a troy ounce, while silver shone brighter by 27 cents to $ 33.54.

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