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U.S. stocks posted solid gains for the first week of March, as investors mainly cheered over President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress and remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

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For the week, all three major indices witnessed sizable gains, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq moving up 0.9 percent, 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Investor euphoria was ignited by Trump’s economic plans, which he described in his first address to a joint session of Congress.

He outlined plans for a 1-trillion-U.S.-dollar infrastructure investment, health care reform, immigration reform and tax relief for businesses and the middle class.

It is widely thought that Trump’s address to the Congress was fairly conventional and delivered a desire to move past the turmoil and partisan division rampant in his first month in the White House.

Some analysts believed that the absence of protectionist comments as well as overall tone that was perceived as “presidential” instilled confidence among investors, sending equity markets higher.

Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq has their largest one-day rally on Wednesday since Nov. 7, while the Dow posted its best advance since December.

Yellen on Friday signaled that an interest rate hike in this month’s monetary policy will likely be appropriate, if the economy progresses in line with officials’ expectation.

“At our meeting later this month, the (Federal Open Market) Committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate,” said Yellen in a speech at the Executives’ Club of Chicago.

The Fed is scheduled to hold its monetary policy meeting on March 14-15.

Concerns about a March rate hike are rising in recent weeks after several Fed officials made some hawkish comments on rate hikes.

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard — a known dove in the central bank’s monetary policy committee — reportedly said Wednesday evening that the Federal Reserve could raise rates “soon,” citing an improved global economy.

Market expectations for a March rate hike were around 80 percent, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, decreased 7.20 percent to end at 10.96 on Friday.

On the economic front, the Non-Manufacturing Index, which measures activity in the U.S. service sector, registered 57.6 percent in February, beating market expectations of 56.5, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said in its monthly survey Friday.

In the week ending Feb. 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 223,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday.

The four-week moving average was 234,250, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since April 14, 1973 when it was 232,750.

U.S. personal income increased 63 billion dollars, or 0.4 percent, in January, beating market consensus of 0.3 percent, said the Commerce Department. Personal income increased 3.6 percent in 2016, compared with an increase of 4.4 percent in 2015.

U.S. manufacturing activity in February accelerated to the fastest pace since August 2014, a sign of growing momentum for the economy.

The manufacturing index, also known as the purchasing managers index (PMI), registered 57.7 in February, an increase of 1.7 points from the previous month, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said in a report on Wednesday.

U.S. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, missing market consensus of 2.1 percent, according to the second estimate released by the Commerce Department. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.5 percent.

Real GDP increased 1.6 percent in 2016, unchanged from the first estimate a month ago.

In a separate report, the department announced that the international trade deficit was 69.2 billion U.S. dollars in January, up from 64.4 billion dollars in December.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index came in at 114.8 in February, up from 111.6 in January.

In corporate news, Snap made its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, notching the largest technology initial public offering since Alibaba. At the close, shares of Snap spiked 44.00 percent to 24.48 dollars apiece. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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