Stocks close broadly higher as Yellen offers upbeat economic assessment

|By:, SA News Editor

Stocks finished strong, with the Dow rising nearly 100 points and the S&P adding 15 to push the index to its 20th record close of the year, as investors liked what Janet Yellen had to say.

The Fed continued the tapering of its bond-buying program by another $10B, as expected, but Yellen commented afterward that factors such as an improving job market and easing credit conditions could produce "above-trend" economic growth.

The utilities sector (+2.2%) finished atop today's leaderboard, extending its June advance to 2.7% while pushing its YTD gain to 14.1%; consumer staples (+1.2%) and health care (+0.8%) also finished ahead of the broader market.

Treasurys climbed to session highs after the FOMC statement crossed the wires; the 10-year note added half a point, lowering its yield to 2.59%.

July WTI crude oil neared $107 early but turned negative following weaker than expected inventory data, -0.4% to settle at $105.97; however, Brent crude, more sensitive to developments in Iraq, rose 0.7% to $114.30.