STOCKS RALLY: What You Need To Know About The US Market Overnight

Janet yellen new york stock exchange traderREUTERS/Brendan McDermidA screen displays a news conference by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 19, 2014.

Markets closed out the first quarter on a high note.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,458.8 (+135.7, +0.8%)
  • S&P 500: 1,872.5 (+14.8, +0.8%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,198.9, (+43.2, +1.0%)

And now the top stories:

  • Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spoke in Chicago this morning, and she made some remarks about monetary policy. She emphasized “considerable slack” in the economy and the jobs market. “I think this extraordinary commitment is still needed and will be for some time, and I believe that view is widely shared by my fellow policymakers at the Fed.” The markets surged on these words, which were widely interpreted as dovish.
  • Here’s Jefferies’ David Zervos on the speech: “Holy dovish deep dish pizza batman!! I have no recollection of a Fed Chair’s speech where the lives of three down-on-their-luck job seeking individuals were discussed in detail. This is one loving and caring Fed Chair – I must send her a “no haters” hat immediately! If anyone doubts Janet’s commitment to fighting for more job creation – read the tape. If anyone doubts Janet’s belief that there is excessive slack in labor markets – read the tape. And if anyone doubt’s Janet conviction that there are no material inflation risks on the horizon – read the tape. This could be one of the most dovish speeches I have ever read from a Federal Reserve official.”
  • Two monthly regional economic indicators were published today. The Chicago PMI fell to 55.9 in March from 59.8 in February. This was worse than the 59.5 expected by economists. “March saw a significant weakening in activity following a five month spell of firm growth,” said MNI Indicators’ Philip Uglow. “It’s too early to tell, though, if this is the start of a sustained slowdown or just a blip. Panellists, though, were optimistic about the future. Asked about the outlook for demand over the next three months, the majority of businesses said they expected to see a pick-up.”
  • The Dallas Fed’s manufacturing activity index jumped to 4.9 in March from 0.3 in February. This was stronger than the 3.0 expected by economists. “Labor market indicators reflected stronger employment growth and longer workweeks,” noted the Dallas Fed. “The March employment index rose markedly to a 21-month high of 15. Nearly a quarter of firms reported net hiring compared with 9 percent reporting net layoffs. The hours worked index fell from 12 to 5.3 but remained positive for the third month in a row.”

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