S&P 500 rose to within a hair of its record high on Thursday as bank stocks got a boost from bets on higher interest rates, and consumer discretionary stocks were lifted by economic data and earnings. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Bank stocks got a boost after Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated the central bank could raise rates "relatively soon" in testimony before Congress. The major U.S. indices posting gains on Thursday. Meridian Equity Partners' Jonathan Corpina: SOUNDBITE: JONATHAN CORPINA, SENIOR MANAGING PARTNER, MERIDIAN EQUITY PARTNERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "What we heard out of Washington today clearly wasn't anything that was market moving. It wasn't anything that was unexpected and Ms. Yellen pretty much stayed down the course that she has before." Wal-Mart reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales blaming lower food prices and warmer-than-usual temperatures which impacted demand for seasonal items. JPMorgan will pay $264 million to settle charges it hired relatives of Chinese officials to win banking deals. On the economic front, U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in six months in October. U.S. housing starts surged to a more than nine-year high in October. A separate report showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a 43-year low last week. Turning to Europe, all arrows up on optimism about the economy.