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U.S. equity markets pushed higher Tuesday as traders cheered the Senate's confirmation of Janet Yellen for Fed chief and stronger-than-expected trade data.
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As of 12:16 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) jumped 103 points, or 0.63%, to 16529, the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:GSPC) advanced 9.4 points, or 0.51%, to 1836 and the Nadsaq Composite (NASDAQ:IXIC) climbed 31.8 points, or 0.77%, to 4145.
The S&P 500 has fallen for three days in a row -- the worst start to a year since 2008 for the broad-market barometer. However, the mood across world trading desks was cheerier Tuesday after the Senate confirmed Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve.
"Our U.S. economics team believes that the most important aspect of Ms Yellen’s appointment is continuity in monetary policy," analysts at Nomura told clients, adding, "she has been a leader of the 'core' group that appears to have driven policy in recent years."
The Fed's aggressive,and unorthodox, monetary policy has been cited as a significant driver of the big gains in Wall Street seen in the last year. Analysts broadly expect Yellen to keep her foot sealed firmly to the economic accelerator.
Still, there could be some bumps in the road ahead. Economists at Goldman Sachs told clients late Monday chillly weather sweeping across the country could "depress" December jobs growth below trend levels and potentially affect other economic indicators as well.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade gap narrowed to $34.25 billion in November, the lowest level since October 2009, from $39.3 billion the month prior. The reading came in far below the $40 billion Wall Street expected.
The data, coupled with recent reading on consumer spending, pushed Barclays to boost its fourth quarter economic growth forecast to an annualized rate of 3% from 1.5%.
In corporate news, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) will pay victims of Bernie Madoff's massive fraud some $1.7 billion as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) revealed 2014 profit estimates that matched analysts' estimates. AOL (NYSE:AOL) made a failed attempt to buy Business Insider for $100 million, sources told FOX Business Network.
In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures climbed 65 cents, or 0.7%, to $94.07 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline jumped 1% 5o $2.672 a gallon. Gold fell 60 cents, or 0.05%, to $1,237 a troy ounce.