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S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq at new intraday highs as bulls bank on Fed rate cut

U.S. stocks continued to climb higher Friday afternoon, pushing further into record territory, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in two days of congressional testimony this week bolstered investor expectations for an interest rate cut at the end of the month.

How are the major benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

                                     DJIA, + 0.80%

rose 191 points, or 0.7%, to 27,281, while the S&P 500

                                     SPX, + 0.39%

gained 9 points, or 0.3%, to 3.009. The Nasdaq Composite Index

                                     COMP, + 0.55%

was 40 points higher at 8,236, a gain of 0.48%.

Those levels were fresh new intraday highs for each benchmark.

The Dow on Thursday rose 227.88 points, or 0.8%, two 27,088.08, marking its first close above 27,000. The S&P 500 also pushed back into record territory, advancing 6.84 points, or 0.2%, two than at 2,999.91. The Nasdaq Composite, which scored a record close on Wednesday, pulled back, ending 6.49 points lower Thursday at 8,196.04, a loss of 0.1%.

Read: The Dow components that drove the blue chip stock index to 27,000

What's driving the market?

Powell, in Thursday testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, said the U.S. economy is in a "very good place" but had only partly recovered from a "confidence shock" it suffered in May due to the US-China trade war. Powell's comments on Thursday, and his appearance before a house panel on Wednesday, were seen as expectations the Fed will move to its July-31 meeting to cut its fed-funds rate by at least a quarter point and to potentially deliver further cuts before year-end.

Powell's "downbeat tone when reflecting on the economic outlook and inflation combined with its complete lack or desire to correct market expectations, despite being cut 100% priced in this month, giving investors exactly what they wanted," said Craig Erans, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note

Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve and voting member of the central bank's interest-rate setting committee, echoed these sentiments in a speech Friday, when he said that he is "nervous about inflation," saying that "a couple" or cuts may need to help lift inflation above 2%, according to Bloomberg.

See: An economy gone "mad"? The Fed is going to cut interest rates despite record stock prices, low unemployment

Trade data from China, meanwhile, showed t he country's exports fell last month as external demand softened, while imports showed an even more substantial drop. News reports also noted of China's trade surplus with the US to $ 29.92 billion from $ 26.9 billion in May

In the eurozone, factory output rose sharply in May, which economists said may be the region's manufacturing sector stabilizing after a long slowdown.

U.S. wholesale prices rose 0.1% in June, versus expectations of a 0.1% decline, according to MarketWatch poll of economists. Year-over-year, wholesale prices rose 2.1% in June, down from 2.3% in May.

The U.S. corporate earnings reporting season gets under way in earnest next week, with a slew of big banks set to kick off the festivities.

Sea: Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of Facebook Inc .

                                     FB, + 0.55%

are in focus after President Trump criticized the company's planned virtual currency project, Libra, on Twitter Thursday evening, stating that the currency will have "little standing or dependability," and suggesting the social media company would need to seek a banking charter to launch a currency. Shares of social media giant rose 0.36% Friday.

Shares of Snap Inc .

                                     SNAP, + 0.67%

and Stitch Fix Inc .

                                     SFIX, -1.14%

are rallying after Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry upgraded both stocks from "neutral" to "buy". Snap shares rose 0.13% Friday, while Stich Fix stock advanced 0.9%.

Illumina Inc .

                                     ILMN, -15.85%

updated its second-quarter guidance Thursday after the close, saying it expects revenue to be $ 50 million lower than previously thought and below analyst forecasts. Shares of the genetics company slumped 15.7% Friday.

Shares of Milacron Holdings Corp .

                                    MCRN, + 24.39%

surged 26%, after the plastics manufacturer and Hillenbrand Inc .

                                     HI, -12.07%

announced that Hillenbrand would acquire the firm in a $ 2 trillion cash and stock deal, which valued Milacron at a 33.5% premium to Thursday's closing price. Accenture PLC

ACN, + 0.51%

said late Thursday that its board had named Julie Sweet's new chief executive officer, and that David Rowland, interim chief executive officer, has been appointed executive chairman. The stock rose 0.32%

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

                                     TMUBMUSD10Y, -1.40%

traded lower at 2.114%

In Asia, stocks closed higher Wednesday, with the China CSI 300

                                     000300, + 0.62%

adding 0.6%, Japan's Nikkei 225

                                     NIK, + 0.20%

rising 0.2% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index

                                     HSI, + 0.14%

advancing 0.1%. European shares were marginally higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600

                                     SXXP, + 0.04%

closing less that 0.1% higher

In commodities markets, crude oil prices

                                     CLQ19, + 0.07%

were higher, along with gold prices

                                     GCQ19, + 0.76%

The U.S. dollar

                                     DXY, -0.25%

was trading 0.2% lower.

Additional reporting by Joy Wiltermuth

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