Wall St gains despite taper talk

Investors still cautious as Fed speakers offer mixed messages.

United States stocks are trading higher in afternoon trade, resuming a three-month rally as traders looked to Federal Reserve officials for hints on whether the central bank will tighten monetary policy next week.

At 0540 AEDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 31.15 points, or 0.19%, at 16,051.35.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 5.63 points, or 0.31%, to 1,810.72, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 7.94 points, or 0.20%, to 4,070.46.

Stocks remained around their highs for the day despite comments from Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis President James Bullard, who said recent labour market figures increased the probability of a taper over coming months.

Meanwhile, Richmond Fed President Lacker said a reduction to stimulus would be debated, though he tempered growth and labour force expectations, seeing no signs they would accelerate quickly.

A strong third-quarter growth report and surprisingly strong November jobs data released last week boosted speculation about whether the Fed would begin pulling back its $US85 billion ($A93 billion) a month stimulus at a policy meeting next week.

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