US stocks posted solid gains for the week, with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq refreshing their record highs a few times, as Wall Street digested the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting as well as a string of economic reports. According to the minutes, most Federal Reserve officials see it appropriate to raise interest rate soon if economy continues to improve, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. “Most participants judged that if economic information came in about in line with their expectations, it would soon be appropriate for the (Federal Open Market) Committee to take another step in removing some policy accommodation,” said the minutes released on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Fed officials also discussed plans to reduce the central bank’s 4.5-trillion-U.S. dollar balance sheet. Nearly all policymakers favored a plan to increase caps or limits on the amount of Treasury and agency securities that would be allowed to run off each month. “The market likely expected the Fed to leave the option of a quicker than currently anticipated reduction of the balance sheet open; but it is clear the Fed wants the reduction of the balance sheet to be behind the scenes and systematic after initially announced,” said Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial.
On the economic front, US real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.2 per cent in the first quarter, higher than the previously estimate of 0.7 per cent, but still lower than the 2.1 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the second estimate released by the Commerce Department on Friday. US new orders for manufactured durable goods in April decreased $1.6 billion, or 0.7 per cent, to $231.2 billion. In the week ending May 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 234,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous revised level, said the US Labor Department on Thursday.
The international trade deficit came in at $67.6 billion dollars in April, up $2.5 billion from $65.1 billion in March. For the week, all three major indices saw strong gains, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq going up 1.3 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively.