Stocks Finished Mostly Higher After Bernanke Speech

U.S. stocks closed mostly higher on Monday, buoyed by better-than-expected data on U.S. manufacturing as traders digested Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments on monetary policy, but the Nasdaq Composite finished lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 77.98 points, or 0.58%, at 13,515.11. The S&P 500 added 3.82 points, or 0.27%, to stand at 1,444.49 while the Nasdaq Composite shed 2.70 points, or 0.09%, to 3,113.53.

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented bond buying in his first comments since the Fed renewed the purchases last month, saying the program will spur growth, cut unemployment, help savers and support the dollar.

U.S. households are facing an average tax increase of $3,446 in 2013 if Congress doesn’t avert the so- called fiscal cliff, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said in a study released today. The top 1 percent of households face some of the largest tax increases in 2013 and would see their after-tax incomes fall by 10.5 percent if Congress does nothing. That would translate to an average tax increase of $120,537 for that group.

Kraft’s North American grocery business, which today will list on the Nasdaq Stock Market as an independent company, is starting life with a handicap: years of underinvestment in new products and marketing. The original Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT), founded in 1909, is becoming two companies — an international snacks business called Mondelez International Inc. and Kraft Foods Group, the North American grocery enterprise.

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