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US markets end higher on Friday

The US markets closed higher with gains of over half a percent on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell affirmed the central bank's strategy of gradually normalizing monetary policy, highlighting the strength in the economy and robust corporate results that have helped to support investment appetite for equities. Powell said he sees two risks surrounding rate hikes, which he outlined as 'moving too fast and needlessly shortening the expansion, versus moving too slowly and risking a destabilizing overheating.' Besides, the strong results from retailers led the major indexes to slight weekly gains as investors also shook off renewed legal worries surrounding Trump.

On the economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing a much bigger than expected decrease in durable goods orders in the month of July. The Commerce Department said durable goods orders tumbled by 1.7 percent in July after climbing by 0.7 percent in June. Street had expected durable goods orders to drop by 0.5 percent. Excluding a significant decrease in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose by 0.2 percent in July after inching up by 0.1 percent in June. Ex-transportation orders had been expected to rise by 0.5 percent.

Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 133.37 points or 0.52 percent to 25790.35, the S&P 500 gained 17.71 points or 0.62 percent to 2874.69 and Nasdaq was up by 67.52 points or 0.86 percent to 7945.98.

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