Wall Street jumps 1% on strong data

US stocks seal second day of solid gains on back of solid data, Fed rates talk.

US stocks have closed sharply higher after investors responded positively to the latest batch of data, comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and a strong performance from Yahoo on the Nasdaq.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 162.09 points higher, or 1%, to 16,424.65.

The broad-based S&P 500 climbed 19.32 points, or 1.05%, to 1,862.30, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 52.06 points, or 1.29%, to 4,086.23.

It marked a second day of gains after stocks finished in the black yesterday despite a day of wild gyrations. Such fluctuations were not evident today, however, with stocks climbing steadily after rising at the open.

The push higher at the start of trade came after news US housing starts rose 2.8% in March, which was seen as a positive despite falling just shy of lofty expectations. Meanwhile, industrial production lifted as well in March, slightly above market forecasts.

Driving gains in the afternoon were comments from Ms Yellen and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart as well as the release of the Fed's 'beige book', which showed growth was picking up in much of the US.

Mr Lockhart said a first rate rise in late 2015 was the most likely outcome and while Ms Yellen was less direct with her comments, she at least hinted a move in the federal funds rate should not be expected this year. The comments helped allay fears on the timing of rate hikes.

Yahoo reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit, results hailed by chief executive Marissa Mayer as showing growth in the web giant's "core" business. But it was anticipation and optimism of Alibaba's IPO that saw investors flock to Yahoo, sending shares 6.3% higher on the Nasdaq.

One drag on the market was the latest earnings release from Bank of America, with the company's swing to a loss not pleasing investors who sent the bank's stock 2% lower