Dow, S&P notch record closes on dimmed rate hike prospects

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.3 per cent at its close while blue-chips gained 0.4 per cent, with rate-sensitive real estate stocks, which were top gainers on Wednesday, tracking more modest gains.

Retailer shares were strong after big-box store Target lifted its earnings forecast for the second quarter, citing improved traffic and sales trends.

In prepared remarks before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen acknowledged growing concerns over weak inflation. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index added 1.1% to 6,261.17.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (NYSEARCA:VXX) fell 5.4% to 10.26.

The 30-Blue Chip stock index also notched an all-time intraday high.

Honolulu high-rise blaze kills at least three, injures two
A Honolulu Fire Department helicopter flies near a fire burning on a floor at the Marco Polo apartment complex in Honolulu. EMS officials said they were treating numerous residents for smoke inhalation and many of the residents were elderly.

The Nasdaq's percentage gain for the week was its biggest so far this year.

Banks and other financials stocks posted the largest gains. "Investors are definitely looking to see how those come out", Davidson said. "There's been just a little bit of a sell on the news, but afterward, you buy on the idea of a good quarter", said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Dow rose 20.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,553.09. But small caps lagged noticeably, with the Russell 2000 index down 0.4%.

Companies in the S&P 500 are expected to report an increase of six percent in operating earnings per share compared with the year-ago period, according to CFRA Research.

About 5.3 billion shares changed hands on USA exchanges.

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