US markets steady as Fed talks up March

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Was it something she said?

After Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen joined many of her colleagues by putting a March interest-rate rise firmly in the central bank’s crosshairs, US equities markets shook off their sluggish start to finish — just barely — in the black as investors digested the upbeat assessment of the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat and finished the day above the 21,000-mark it crossed for the first time ever earlier this week. Although it snapped a 12-day streak of record closing highs earlier this week, the index still managed to gain 0.88 per cent on the week by Friday’s close.

The S&P 500 was also up but just barely at 0.05 per cent, to 2,383, boosting it to a weekly gain of 0.67 per cent. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, crossed the Friday finish line up 0.16 per cent to 5,870, and was up 0.44 per cent on the week.

The gains came after yet another week in which the major indexes blew past previous record closes as optimism about President Donald Trump’s pro-business policies started to return after his joint address to Congress earlier in the week. A bevy of Fed bigwigs also talked up the chances of an interest-rate increase as soon as its March meeting, which has sent investors scrambling to price in their rapidly shifting expectations.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, extended its fall at day’s end, winding up down 0.81 per cent at 101.36.

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