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By Caroline Valetkevitch
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks held modest gains in volatile Friday afternoon trading as investors assessed comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on the U.S. economy.
Yellen, in a speech at a conference of policymakers and top academics, laid out the deepening concern at the Fed that U.S. economic potential is slipping - and may need aggressive steps to rebuild it.
Traders have currently priced in a 67-percent chance of a rate hike in December, while the odds for November are minimal as the Fed's meeting falls just days before the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.
"Is Chair Yellen now adding yet another reason for holding off raising rates in December? We'll have to watch the data as (we) move towards the mid-December FOMC meeting and more carefully monitor ... Yellen's guidance," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.
Gains in bank shares helped to support the market, with the S&P 500 financial index <.SPSY> up 0.8 percent, though shares of JPMorgan
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 95.79 points, or 0.53 percent, to 18,194.73, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 6.85 points, or 0.32 percent, to 2,139.4 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 11.72 points, or 0.22 percent, to 5,225.05.
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Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.41-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.11-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 3 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 23 new highs and 73 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)