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Stocks Close Higher, Yellen Says Fed Will Keep Bolstering Economy

 / Updated  / Source: CNBC.com

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Stocks ended on a high note on Monday, with the Dow logging triple-digit gains, after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said there's still room for the central bank to help the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 134 points ahead, the S&P 500 rose 14 points and the Nasdaq added 43 points, or just over 1 percent.

Equities also saw a boost from end-of-quarter "window dressing,'' when money managers adjust their positions to improve the look of their portfolios

Stocks surged in anticipation of Yellen's speech in Chicago, with investors looking for signs the Fed will not soon reduce its stimulus policies.

The job market in some ways is tougher now than in any recession, she said, adding that the Fed's "extraordinary commitment," in the form of massive bond-buying and ultra-low interest rates, is "still needed, and will be for some time."

The markets were closely monitoring Yellen's speech also for comments on interest rates. During her first news conference on March 19, equities were hard hit after she raised the possibility of an earlier-than-anticipated increase in rates. She hinted then that a rate hike could come as soon as next year, but Monday's speech tempered that idea.

The Fed chief's remarks, given at the 2014 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference, hinted that—at a minimum—interest rates would remain at near-zero levels for an extended period.

Bond prices dropped across the board after Monday's speech. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was up three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 2.75 percent just after Yellen's comments.

Wall Street was also optimistic amid hopes of stimulus in both the euro zone and China.

Chinese state media reported that the Beijing was preparing measures to bolster the economy. However, gains to Chinese shares were pared by caution ahead of the publication of official manufacturing data on Tuesday. Still, Asian shares ended Monday' mostly higher.

Meanwhile, European shares were lifted amid hopes the European Central Bank will announce stimulus measures when it meets later this week.

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