US stocks jump 1% as Bernanke signals more easy money

PHOTO: US stocks jump 1% as Bernanke signals more easy money

NEW YORK - US stocks Thursday surged higher, following global equity markets that greeted fresh comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that monetary policy would remain accommodative until the economy improves.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 152.88 (1.00 per cent) to 15,444.54.

The broad-based S&P 500 rocketed 17.65 (1.07 per cent) higher to 1,670,27, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index rose 40.11 (1.14 per cent) to 3,560.87.

Bernanke, responding to questions following a speech in Boston, said "highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future" was needed given the weak labour market and low inflation.

Bernanke's comments made clear that while the Fed may taper its bond-buying programme this year, such a move did not imply a rise in interest rates.

Leading Asian equity markets rose as did European exchanges, with Germany's DAX index up 1.1 per cent and France's CAC 40 index up 0.8 per cent.

The jump in stocks came despite a rise in initial US jobless claims to 360,000 in the week ending July 6, above the 345,000 expected by analysts.