Bernanke and good earnings lift Wall Street

THE DOW Jones and the S&P 500 closed at record highs yesterday after Morgan Stanley and others reported better-than-expected earnings and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments further reassured markets.

Shares of Morgan Stanley jumped 4.4 per cent to $27.70, its highest close since April 2011, after the bank posted a 42 per cent increase in quarterly profit as stock trading revenue soared. Earlier, Morgan Stanley’s stock hit a session high of $27.95, its highest intraday level since April 2011. The S&P financial index climbed 1.3 per cent.

Of the 21 financial companies that have reported quarterly earnings so far, 76 per cent have surpassed analysts’ estimates.

UnitedHealth shares rallied, bolstering the Dow and other health insurers’ stocks.

UnitedHealth gained 6.5 per cent to $70.55 after the company’s results beat expectations.

Both the Dow and the S&P 500 also hit all-time intraday highs shortly after the opening bell. The Dow climbed as high as 15,589.40, while the S&P 500 touched a session high of 1,693.12.

Bernanke, speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, stressed that the timeline for winding down the Fed’s stimulus programme was not set in stone.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78.02 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 15,548.54, a record closing high. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 8.46 points, or 0.5 per cent, to a record close of 1,689.37. The Nasdaq gained just 1.28 points, or 0.04 per cent, to end at 3,611.28.