Stocks Surged on Fed Signals

U.S. stocks surged on Thursday, with Dow posting biggest percentage gain since December 2011, as investor sentiment buoyed by comments from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 421.28 points, or 2.43%, to 17,778.15. The S&P 500 gained 48.34 points, or 2.40%, to 2,061.23. The Nasdaq Composite added 104.08 points, or 2.24%, to 4,748.40.

The Fed’s promise to take a “patient” approach to raising interest rates, while adding a note of clarity on when it might raise rates.

The leading economic index rose 0.6% in November, indicating the U.S. is likely to expand at a fairly robust pace in the next few months, according to the Conference Board said. “The increase in the LEI signals continued moderate growth through the winter season,”

The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits in mid-December remained below 300,000, a level typically associated with strong hiring. Initial jobless claims fell by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 in the seven days ended Dec. 13, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Nike Inc. (NKE) reported on Thursday fiscal a second-quarter profit that rose to $655 million, or 74 cents a share, from $534 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Red Hat Inc. (RHT) topped Wall Street expectations for the quarter. The company reported third-quarter earnings of 42 cents a share on revenue of $455.9 million.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR) reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $17.9 million, or 20 cents a share, down from $26.8 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

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