Wall Street sets fresh records

United States stocks close higher on better-than-expected US jobless claims data, second day of Bernanke testimony.

United States stocks set fresh closing record highs after US jobless claim data came in above expectations and as investors tracked earnings reports and ongoing testimony from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 78.02 points, or 0.50%, to 15,548.54 points.

The S&P 500 gained 8.46 points, or 0.50%, to close at 1,689.37 points.

The Nasdaq Composite inched up 1.28 points, or 0.04%, to close at 3,611.28 points.

Mr Bernanke returned to Capitol Hill in Washington for a second day of testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. In the previous trading session US stocks climbed higher after Mr Bernanke stressed that the central bank would only begin tapering stimulus spending if US economic growth clearly supported such a move.

His second day of testimony during the current trading session was largely dominated by a question-and-answer period.

Mr Bernanke told lawmakers that the Fed has made no decision on whether the central bank will trim its $US85 billion-per-month stimulus program in September.

The US jobless claims data showed that initial claim for benefits in the latest week dropped 24,000 to 334,000, compared with analyst expectations of 340,000 weekly claims.

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