The US markets closed higher on Monday, for the fourth straight session to a record close after Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen signaled that the central bank could gradually raise interest rates sooner rather than later. The Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen left open the possibility of an interest-rate increase as early as the central bank’s next policy meeting in March. Yellen said the Fed would depend heavily on US economic data to determine if the labor market continues to strengthen and inflation is moving up to the central bank’s 2% target. Adding to the sense that a rate increase could come before too long, Yellen reiterated there is a risk of the Fed waiting too long to raise rates. She said it would be unwise to delay because it might require the central bank to eventually raise rates rapidly. She said it was reassuring that market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low but are no longer at very low levels. She defended the Fed’s policy to hold its balance sheet steady at $4.5 trillion, saying this has helped maintain accommodative financial conditions. The Fed chairwoman, whose term will run out in a year, stressed that the outlook is uncertain and interest-rate policy wasn’t on any preset course. While stressing it wasn’t her intention to opine on fiscal policy plans, Yellen laid out two criteria. She said that it was important that any tax -and-spending plan would end up putting the US budget on a sustainable trajectory and it was important to focus on measures to improve worker productivity because this would boost economic growth and raise living standards.
On economy front, the National Federation of Independent Business’s small-business index for January maintained its postelection surge as business owners remained optimistic about better economic prospects under President Donald Trump’s administration. The Producer Price Index for January jumped by 0.6%, the largest rise since 2012, suggesting inflation may be heating up.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 92.25 points or 0.45 percent to 20,504.41, the Nasdaq was up 18.61 points or 0.32 percent to 5,782.57, while S&P 500 gained 9.33 points or 0.40 percent to 2,337.58.
The Indian ADRs closed mixed; Infosys was up 0.26%, Wipro was up 0.11% and HDFC Bank was up 0.11%. On the other hand, Tata Motors was down 4.01% and Dr. Reddy’s Lab was down 0.11%.