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Stocks higher after Yellen says Fed will support economy

Investors cheered the news that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen thinks the U.S. economy and the job market are far from healthy and will need help from the Fed’s low interest rates for some time. On the final day of the quarter, the Dow (^DJI) was up 0.82% The Nasdaq (^IXIC) was up 1.04% and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) grew 0.79%.

Speaking at a conference on community investment in Chicago, Yellen pointed to specific areas of weakness in the job market, including what she called “a large pool of partly-employed workers”, as evidence that labor conditions are worse than indicated by the unemployment rate. The employment report for March is due this Friday.

In corporate news, Biogen (BIIB) was up nearly 4% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the company’s treatment for hemophilia B, a rare, hereditary disorder that affects about 4,000 people in the United States and about 25,000 worldwide.

Disney (DIS) was up nearly 1.5% after the company said “Frozen” was the highest-grossing animated film in box office history, topping $1 billion in worldwide sales. The film sold $398.4 million worth of that total at U.S. and Canadian theaters since it opened on November 27 before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) were down 1.85%. The electric-car maker said it reached a deal to keep selling its cars directly to customers in New York state. As part of the compromise between Tesla and the New York Automobile Dealers Association, the company will be able to continue operating its existing five stores in the state, but any new locations would have to be though licensed dealerships. New Jersey delayed a planned ban on Tesla’s direct-sales while state legislators and members of the dealership association work on a compromise. The ban was supposed to take effect April 1. It was delayed to April 15.

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