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Stock Market News for July 13, 2017

Benchmarks finished higher on Wednesday, with the Dow posting its first record close since June 19 as Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen concluded her testimony on Capitol Hill. Yellen favored gradual monetary tightening policy and unwinding of the central bank’s balance sheet. Coming amidst soft inflation data, these comments were welcomed by investors. Additionally the Nasdaq posted its fourth consecutive session gain, boosting the broader markets. Moreover, energy shares continued to move north due to increase in oil prices as EIA reported a weekly decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) advanced 0.6% to close at 21,532.14, marking its first closing high since June 19. The Dow closed at a new record high after retreating from an intraday record of 21,580.79. The S&P 500 rose 0.7% to finish at 2,443.25. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.1% to close at 6,261.17, posting an increase for the fourth consecutive session. A total of around 6.1 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, much lower than the last 20-session average of 6.9 billion shares. Advancers outnumbered declining stocks on the NYSE by a 3.52 to 1 ratio.

Yellen's Testimony Welcomed by Investors

In her prepared statement on Wednesday, Yellen favored a gradual shrinkage of Fed’s balance sheet, which is expected to stay “appreciably smaller than the current $4 trillion”. Yellen expected the size of the balance sheet to remain larger than it was prior to the Great Recession. She commented that the central bank is likely to start unwinding its massive $4.5 trillion program later this year. Additionally, Yellen said that in case of an economic slowdown, the central bank is open to building up its balance sheet again apart from cutting the federal funds rate.

Yellen did not provide any clear hint about whether Fed would raise key interest rates once more this year. She said the central bank will be monitoring inflation metrics when deciding on its interest rate policy. Yellen opined that the central bank needs to raise interest rates gradually over coming years.

The Fed Chair added that “the federal funds rate would not have to rise all that much further to get to a neutral policy stance”. A neutral interest rate is believed to be the rate which neither boosts nor reduces economic activity. Previously, investors were concerned over soft inflation data which is still short of central bank's target of 2%. Amid soft readings on inflation, Yellen’s testimony appeared to provide some confidence to investors, which had a positive impact on the broader markets.

Meanwhile, as per the Fed’s Beige Book, the U.S. economy recorded a "slight to moderate" pace of growth over past few weeks.

Technology Shares Continue to Gain

Technology shares moved north on Wednesday, for the fourth successive session. Gains in the technology sector had an overall positive impact on the broader markets.

Shares of major technology companies including Facebook FB and Microsoft MSFT recorded gain of 2.3% and 1.7% respectively. The broader Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) advanced 1.3%, emerging as one of the best performing sectors of the S&P 500. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Energy Shares Gain

Oil prices continued its upward trend on Wednesday, following the release of a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The government agency reported a decline of 7.6 million barrels in U.S. crude stockpiles for the week ended July 7. As per EIA, crude stockpiles had recorded a decline of 6.3 million barrels in the previous week.

Gain in oil prices had a positive impact on the energy shares. WTI crude prices advanced by $0.45, or 1%, to $45.49 a barrel. The broader Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) advanced 0.3%.

Stocks that made Headlines

Verizon Faces Data Violation, Customer Records Compromised

U.S. telecom behemoth Verizon Communications Inc. VZ recently faced data violation, wherein records of 14 million customers were exposed. (Read More)

American Airlines Up on Raised Q2 TRASM Guidance    

Shares of Fort Worth, TX-based American Airlines Group AAL have rallied on Jul 12, following an upward revision of the guidance for a key unit revenue metric for the second quarter of 2017. (Read More)

More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!                  

It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 27 billion devices in just 3 years, creating a $1.7 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 6 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2020.  Click here for the 6 trades >>

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