US stocks closing: U.S. stocks rose on Friday as Dow component Hewlett-Packard surged on strong results and comments from Fed officials allayed fears that the central bank would curtail its stimulus measures.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke downplayed worries that the Fed has fueled asset bubbles that could hurt the economy in a private meeting with bond dealers and investors earlier this month, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
Bernanke's view helped ease fears that the central bank may end its easy money policies. Minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting hit markets on Wednesday as investors interpreted divergent opinions on the benefit of stimulus as a sign the measures may be halted sooner than thought.
"They are in uncharted territory with divergent views," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. "I could see some pretty heated opinions on what the ultimate outcome is, so I do believe there is dissension."
Hewlett-Packard Co shares jumped more than 12 percent and gave one of the biggest boosts to both the Dow and the S&P 500 after the personal computer maker's quarterly revenue and forecasts beat expectations. Hewlett-Packard's stock rose to $19.20 at the close, up 12.3 percent for the day.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 119.95 points, or 0.86 percent, to 14,000.57 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 13.18 points, or 0.88 percent, to 1,515.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 30.33 points, or 0.97 percent, to end at 3,161.82.
With Bernanke's reported comments much on their minds in Friday's session, investors will want the Fed chairman to reiterate his remarks publicly when he speaks before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. That would echo comments made by two top Fed officials on Friday.
Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and Fed Governor Jerome Powell both defended the U.S. central bank's asset-buying program, arguing that the policy helps the U.S. economy.
The S&P 500 shed 1.9 percent over the previous two sessions, its worst two-day drop since early November, following the release of the Fed's minutes on Wednesday. The selloff marked the end of seven back-to-back weeks of gains for stocks.
For the week, the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq lost nearly 1 percent. Only the Dow ended the week with a gain - up just 0.1 percent.
HP's results come near the end of a relatively strong earnings season in which 70 percent of S&P 500 companies beat analysts'