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US stocks advance ahead of April payroll data

Traders are hotly awaiting quarterly results from iPhone maker Apple amid persistent fears over its performance in Asian powerhouse China (JUSTIN SULLIVAN)
Traders are hotly awaiting quarterly results from iPhone maker Apple amid persistent fears over its performance in Asian powerhouse China (JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

US stocks rose on Thursday as investors digested the Federal Reserve interest rate outlook and awaited Apple's latest results on the eve of critical payroll data.

Large technology companies enjoyed a positive session, lifting the Nasdaq amid continued bullishness over artificial intelligence.

After the market closed Thursday, Apple reported a two percent drop in quarterly profits to $23.7 billion as it announced an epic $110 billion share buyback, propelling shares higher in after-hours trading.

Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell warned Wednesday US interest rates would stay higher for longer, after the central bank left borrowing costs on hold once again.

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Powell's remarks, however, were tempered by his assurance that rates would not likely be hiked again, soothing worries in some quarters that the bank's battle to bring inflation back to its two percent target would need to be stepped up.

The Fed also said it would slow down the pace at which it shrinks its balance sheet, having bought up vast amounts of bonds previously to keep rates low.

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note retreated a day after Powell said an interest rate hike was unlikely.

"The investors are breathing a sigh of relief because Fed Chair Powell basically said that a rate hike is unlikely," said Sam Stovall of CFRA Research. "And that I think was the biggest concern that investors had going into the Fed meeting where they thought that Powell would be more hawkish than he actually was."

Elsewhere, London's stocks rose, helped by forecast-busting first-quarter earnings from energy major Shell, but Frankfurt and Paris retreated as both markets returned from a May Day holiday.

Currency traders will be keeping a nervous watch on the yen on Friday and Monday, which are holidays in Japan that usually cause thin liquidity, while analysts said a strong US jobs report could also send the dollar racing higher again.

Soon after Powell's comments on Wednesday, the yen soared around three percent to 153.04 per dollar, raising suspicion that Japanese officials had stepped into forex markets again.

It subsequently slid back but then pushed higher against the dollar.

A rally on Monday -- after the yen hit a new 34-year low of 160.17 -- had led to similar speculation.

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 38,225.66 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.9 percent at 5,064.20 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 1.5 percent at 15,840.96 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 8,172.15 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.9 percent at 7,914.65 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.2 percent at 17,896.50 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 4,890.61 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 38,236.07 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 2.5 percent at 18,207.13 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 153.52 yen from 154.57 yen on Wednesday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0731 from $1.0712

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2537 from $1.2527

Euro/pound: UP at 85.56 pence from 85.50 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $78.95 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.3 percent at $83.67 per barrel

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