After moving notably higher in the previous session, stocks may see some further upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a modestly higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 9 points.
The markets may continue to benefit from a positive reaction to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual monetary policy.
Yellen is due to make her second appearance on Capitol Hill this morning, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee
With Yellen’s prepared remarks expect to mirror those she delivered to the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, traders are likely to keep an eye on her answers to Senators’ questions.
On Wednesday, Yellen told Congress additional gradual rate hikes are likely to be appropriate over the next few years.
“Even so, the Committee continues to anticipate that the longer-run neutral level of the federal funds rate is likely to remain below levels that prevailed in previous decades,” Yellen said.
The Fed chief also said the central bank is likely to begin a program to gradually reduce the size of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet this year.
In economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest uptick in U.S. producer prices in the month of June.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand inched up by 0.1 percent in June after coming in flat in May. Economists had expected prices to remain unchanged.
Excluding food and energy prices, core producer prices also crept up by 0.1 percent in June after climbing by 0.3 percent in May. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.
A separate report from the Labor Department showed a slight decrease in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 8th.
The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 247,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 250,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to edge down to 245,000 from the 248,000 originally reported for the previous week.
Following the mixed performance seen on Tuesday, stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. With the upward move on the day, the Dow reached a new record closing high.
The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow rose 123.07 points or 0.6 percent to 21,532.14, the Nasdaq surged up 67.87 points or 1.1 percent to 6,261.17 and the S&P 500 advanced 17.72 points or 0.7 percent to 2,443.25.
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