Banks and Tech Lead Rally, But Fed Gives Markets an Extra Boost

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +1.68% , S&P +1.81% , Nasdaq +1.88% , Oil +0.35% , Gold -1.61% .

On the commodities front, Oil rose to $106.71 a barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold falling to $1,672.50 an ounce while Silver fell 1.43% to settle at $33.27.

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Today’s markets were up because:

1) Banks. Investors focused on shares of big banks today, one of two sectors (the other is tech) that tend to reflect an increased appetite for risk. Bank of America , Citigroup , and JPMorgan Chase led the market’s rally today, climbing more than 6 percent each. JPMorgan closed the day up more than 7 percent after getting an extra push from the bank’s announcement that it would raise its dividend 20 percent and had authorized a $15 billion share repurchase plan.

2) Tech. First Solar , Micron Technology , and JDS Uniphase were all strong today, leading an impressive tech rally that witnessed across-the-board gains for companies ranging from Intel to Apple to ARM Holdings . The Nasdaq rose 1.88 percent, outperforming the other two major U.S. markets, though the S&P 500 and Dow were helped by financials.

3) Fed. Markets were up all day but jumped higher in the last hour of trading after the Federal Reserve issued a fair outlook for the U.S. economy. As expected, policymakers chose not to implement any new stimulus programs, so few could be disappointed. And while the central bank remained cautious in giving its assessment of the current state of the economy, policymakers did give a more upbeat outlook for the job market and the global economy.

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