Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +1.21%, S&P +1.51%, Nasdaq +2.49%, Oil +0.16%, Gold +3.62%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed slightly to $85.44 a barrel. Precious metals were also up, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,827.10 an ounce and Silver (NYSE:SLV) up 1.41% to $41.37 an ounce.
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Bernanke. While markets were headed downward this morning after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking from an economic conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, announced no new plan to stimulate economic growth, as investors mulled over his speech, markets turned upward. Though Bernanke announced no official plans, no quantitative easing, he hinted that the Federal Reserve is still considering possible actions it may take to boost the economy. He also said that he has faith that, in the long term, the economy will recover based on policies already in place, including the Fed’s near-zero interest rates. The economy only needs a short-term stimulus, according to Bernanke, who expressed his hope that Congress will not prioritize cutting the deficit over instituting policies or reform that will help create jobs and improve the economy in the short term.
2) Economic data. It seems Bernanke’s faith in the economy’s recovery holds greater weight than negative economic data that would seem to disprove his assertion that the economy is steadily improving. Today the Commerce Department reported that GDP only grew 1% during the last quarter, a downwardly revised figure from the earlier reported 1.3% growth. And a monthly survey from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan showed that consumer confidence declined significantly in August, falling to its lowest level since November 2008, while an index of consumer expectations for six months from now, a more accurate indicator of the direction of consumer spending, dropped to its lowest level since May 1980.
3) Tech. The technology sector was the day’s best performer, climbing 2.52% as a whole. Some of the most active stocks included Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), while the biggest gains were had by Aruba Networks (NASDAQ:ARUN), climbing 19.89%, and MICROS Systems (NASDAQ:MCRS), up 12.02% at close.