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Dow makes modest gains

Shares on Wall Street are on course to finish up for the first time this week, led by tech stocks.

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The major US stock index benchmarks have been in positive territory during the afternoon session in New York, after a volatile morning, and with under an hour to go to the US close the Dow was up 0.27% or 41 points at 15,511, the S&P 500 had risen 0.44% to 1698.4 and the NASDAQ 100 gained 0.56% to stand at 3133.

Despite today’s modest gains, the S&P and Dow both remain substantially down for the week, currently about 1% lower than where they began on Monday, with confidence taking a knock this week from comments from various Fed officials that appeared to confirm their happiness to taper stimulus as early as the next FOMC meeting.

Putting this in perspective, realistically no Fed official is going to rule out September as a viable opportunity to begin tapering, which would cause even bigger ructions in the market, and nothing has been said to alter what has already been communicated by the Fed by any significant degree: namely, the decision will be made based on economic data and tapering will likely occur later this year should the economy continue to improve on trend.

Today’s jobless claims tends to suggest the economy is moving along the forecasted path, but we are yet to see with any greater clarity what the Fed’s intentions are.

Still to come later today, we have the Fed’s balance sheet report, which gives detail of how the Fed has been injecting liquidity into the US economy (due at 21.30 BST) and tomorrow we have wholesale trade data for June, which shows how sales at wholesalers are performing and whether inventories are rising or falling. Inventories are expected to have risen by 0.4% after a drop in May.

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