US stocks extend gains


US stocks extended gains today, with each of the major indexes up at least 1 per cent, as comments from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke suggested the central bank would continue supportive monetary policies even as the unemployment rate improves

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 136.72 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 13,217.45. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 14.94 points, or 1.07 per cent, to 1,412.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 34.70 points, or 1.13 per cent, to 3,102.62.

The euro hit a better than three-week high against the greenback as the dollar slid to a similar low against the Swiss franc shortly after Mr Bernanke said that the US economy needs to grow faster to bring down the unemployment rate more.

"At the very least this leaves that door cracked open to QE, but it definitely reaffirms the idea that the Fed is going to keep its foot on the gas pedal, at least in the foreseeable future," said Stewart Hall, a senior currency strategist with RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

Investors had seen lower chances for more easing from the Fed in recent weeks as a run of data suggested the recovery in the world's biggest economy, including the beleaguered labour market, was gaining traction.

Mr Bernanke's comments helped take the edge off those views.

"He's being dovish and sort of downplaying the pace of labor market improvement we've had so far," said Sean Incremona, an economist at 4Cast Ltd. in New York.

Mr Bernanke's remarks helped push the euro past resistance at $1.3302, the 61.8 percent retracement of its late February to mid-March fall.

The euro rose 0.32 per cent to $1.3314 after climbing as high as $1.3329, with the dollar off 0.32 per cent to 0.9048 Swiss francs.