The S&P 500 closed at all-time highs for the second straight day Thursday, as big tech continued to ride the fall in bond yields after Federal Reserve Jerome Powell indicated that "unevenness" in the recovery will keep easy monetary policy on the Fed's menu for some time.
The S&P 500 rose 0.4%, to close at a record high of 4,097.16, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.17%, or 56 points, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.03%.
Chairman Powell, appearing during a virtual IMF panel discussion on Thursday, laid out the case for the central bank to keep its monetary spigot wide open, cooling investor expectations the central bank will be forced to act sooner-than-expected.
"There is a brighter outlook for the U.S. economy from fiscal support, vaccines, but unevenness in recovery is a serious issue," Powell said as he reiterated the current pace of the Fed's monthly bond buying will continue. "We want to see a string of months like the March jobs report to see progress."
The fed chief's dovish comments echoed the tone of the Fed's March monetary policy meeting minutes released Wednesday. Fed policymakers acknowledged progress on the economy, but continued to back the ongoing pace of monetary support, saying substantial progress on the recovery will likely take "some time," the minutes showed.
The labor market, meanwhile, continued to offer some credence to the Fed's chief's ongoing cautious outlook as weekly jobless claims increased more than expected, sending U.S. bond yields lower and paving the way for big tech to continue its climb.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) continued to rack up gains. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was slightly lower.
Banks, however, lagged the broader market rally as stuttering bond yields dented sentiment on the interest-rate sensitive sector ahead of earnings from major Wall Street banks next week.
JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) was higher, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) remained below the flat line.
In consumer discretionary stocks, a surge in Etsy helped offset losses in General Motors (NYSE:GM) after the ongoing global chip shortage forced the automaker to halt production at several factories.
Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) jumped nearly 6% as investors continued to back the long-term outlook for online retailers even as the reopening is on the horizon. Stitch Fix (NASDAQ:SFIX) and MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI) were up more than 3%.