Stocks End Higher on Bernanke Speech; Post Gains for August
8/31/2012 4:43:34 PM
Stocks ended higher in trading today as investors digested Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s much-anticipated speech. All three major indexes posted gains for the month of August.
The Dow Jones ended the day 0.69% higher at 13,090.84, the S&P 500 ended the day 0.51% higher at 1,406.58, and the Nasdaq ended the day 0.60% higher at 3,066.96. Basic Materials sector led the gains in the S&P 500 today, ending the day 1.21% higher.
For the week, the Dow Jones fell 0.51%, the S&P 500 fell 0.32%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.09%. For the month of August, the Dow Jones rose 0.63%, the S&P 500 rose 1.98%, and the Nasdaq rose 4.33%.
Earlier today, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke delivered his much-anticipated speech at the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Bernanke reiterated that the Fed remains ready to support the U.S. economy, if needed. The Fed Chairman also defended the Fed’s policies and said more bond purchases are an option.
Bernanke said, “The costs of nontraditional policies when considered carefully appear manageable, implying that we should not rule out the further use of such policies if economic conditions warrant.” Bernanke’s speech indicates that the Fed is open to another round of quantitative easing.
On the economic front, the final reading on Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for the month of August came in at 74.3, beating economists forecast of 73.6. Meanwhile, a report from the Institute of Supply Management Chicago showed that manufacturing activity in the Midwest was slightly lower than expected in August.
On the corporate front, Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) shares surged today after the company reported its quarterly results. SPLK shares ended the day 12.79% higher at $34.40.
Other major gainers in trading today were Medivation Inc. (NASDAQ: MDVN), which ended the day 7.64% higher at $104.86, and SAIC Inc. (NYSE: SAI), which ended the day 3.39% higher at $12.21.
European markets ended mostly higher today, with the EURO STOXX 50 Index gaining 1.54%. Asian markets finished lower overnight, with the Nikkei 225 Index in Japan closing 1.60% lower, and the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong closing 0.36% lower.