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Stocks Get High on Yellen's Easy Money Pledge Hit New Records

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S markets reached new record highs Friday on expectations Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen, tipped to be the next central bank chief, will maintain current monetary policy until economic data shows solid improvement. Tepid industrial production data today reinforced a mixed-economic outlook.

The S&P 500 gained 0.4% to 1,798.18, extending the benchmark gauge's 2013 advance to 26%, poised for its best year since 1997 and a new closing record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.5% to 15,961.70 while the Nasdaq was adding 0.3% to 3,985.97.

"Markets will grind higher as an accommodating Fed Reserve offsets anti-growth policies from Washington unless we get some extraordinary external bolt [from the blue]," Dan Veru, chief investment officer for Palisade Capital Management said in a phone interview. The New-Jersey based fund manager helps oversee $4.5 billion in assets.

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee , Yellen emphasized the need for the Fed to continue to support the economy through easing measures.

In corporate news, Carl Icahn disclosed in a regulatory filing that he owned close to 3.9 million shares of Apple AAPL, the iPod and iPad maker, at the end of September. Icahn's holdings in Apple are valued at more than $2 billion based on Apple's closing price Thursday of $528.16. Apple shares were edging 0.06% higher to $528.50 on Friday.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A_ also disclosed a new stake of 40 million shares in Exxon Mobil XOM. Exxon added 2.2% to $95.26.

LinkedIn (LNKD) jumped after Stifel Nicolaus analysts initiated coverage of the stock with a "buy," endorsing it as the go-to platform for professional networking. Shares increased 4.3% to close at $231.06. Stifel also began coverage of Yelp YELP with a "buy" recommendation, praising it for its strength in going beyond just being an online directory to becoming a key connection point to local businesses. Shares were rising 2.78% to $69.12.

In key economic releases, the Empire State manufacturing index for November unexpectedly contracted by 2.21 from 1.52 in October, showing that conditions had weakened for New York manufacturers. Expectations had been for a rise to 5.00. Meanwhile, October import prices dropped 0.7% and were unchanged excluding fuel costs. September import prices were revised downward to a rise of 0.1% from a 0.2% gain previously.

Industrial production also disappointed, edging down 0.1 percent in October after increasing 0.7 percent in September according to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed higher by 1.69% as the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo increased 1.95%. The UK FTSE 100 was advancing 0.20% while the DAX in Germany ticked up 0.10%.

Ten year Treasuries were rising 0.43% to 2.70 while gold futures were up 0.09% to $1,287.50.

Oil was gaining 0.38% to $94.12 a barrel while the U.S. dollar index was off 0.23% to $80.83.

-- By Jane Searle in New York

Stock quotes in this article: ^DJI, ^GSPC, ^IXIC 

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