The Dow Jones industrial average is closing in on 16,000, while the S&P 500 is inching toward 1,800, both of which would be reached for the first time. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is nearing 4,000, a level not seen since September 2000, just months before the collapse of the dotcom bubble. All three indexes are within 1% of the psychologically important mileposts.
Investors are likely still in a good mood Friday, a day after Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellen told a Senate panel that she is determined to support the U.S. economic recovery, and believes the Fed's bond-buying program still has the power to help.
The central bank's $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program -- also known as quantitative easing or 'QE' -- has helped spur stocks by pumping markets with extra cash.
U.S. stock futures inched higher ahead of the open, after finishing a fresh record highs Thursday.
Shares in Exxon Mobil (Fortune 500) were higher in premarket trading after it was revealed that Warren Buffett's , Berkshire Hathaway (Fortune 500) made a big bet on the company, , buying roughly 40 million Exxon shares -- worth $3.74 billion at Thursday's closing price.
Credit rating agency Moody's downgraded four of the biggest U.S. banks, saying that it was now less likely the federal government would bail them out in the case of a crisis. Shares of the four - JPMorgan Chase (Fortune 500), , Goldman Sachs (Fortune 500), , Morgan Stanley (Fortune 500) and , Bank of New York Mellon (Fortune 500) -- were not yet trading early Friday. Moody's reaffirmed its ratings on four other major banks -- , Bank of America (Fortune 500), , Citgroup (Fortune 500), , State Street (Fortune 500) and , Wells Fargo (Fortune 500), and their shares were either little changed or not yet trading. ,
All the main Asian markets ended with solid gains. The main indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai all pushed up by nearly 2%, in part bolstered by the dovish talk from Yellen.
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