NEW YORK, March 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks rallied Monday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled continued monetary stimulus to support the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 134.60 points, or 0.82 percent, to 16,457.66. The S&P 500 added 14.72 points, or 0.79 percent, to 1,872.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 43.24 points, or 1.04 percent, to 4,198.99.
Monday also marked the final trading day of March and the first quarter.
On a quarterly basis, the blue-chip Dow slipped 0.7 percent over the past quarter, while the broader S&P 500 and the tech- heavy Nasdaq recorded 1.3-percent and 0.5-percent gains, respectively.
For March, the Dow was up 0.8 percent, the S&P 500 up 0.7 percent, but the Nasdaq lost 2.5 percent.
U.S. stocks initially moved higher at open and held its gains till the end of the session as Yellen's dovish remarks buoyed market sentiment.
There is still room for the Fed to bolster the U.S. economy through its "extraordinary" policy, in the form of the massive bond buying program and the near-zero interest rates, Yellen said on Monday, referring to a weak labor market.
The speech reassured investors somewhat after she suggested at her first press conference as the Fed chief following the Fed's March policy meeting that the first lift in federal fund rates could happen about six months after tapering ends this fall, earlier than the market's expectations.
Fed officials had expressed different views toward the timing of the first rate hike, making investors confused by their mixed signals.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said last Friday that he expected that short-term policy rate will remain near zero well into 2015 and that he doubted the rate will start to rise before the middle of 2015.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, however, told Reuters last week that the U.S. central bank should start raising rates in the first quarter of 2015.
The market fluctuated narrowly after a pair of local manufacturing numbers came out mixed.
The Chicago Business Barometer dropped 3.9 points in March to 55.9, the lowest level since August, according to ISM-Chicago, a non-profit association dedicated to strengthening the community of purchasing and supply management professionals in the Chicagoland area.
However, a separate report posted by the Dallas Fed reflected that Texas manufacturing sector strengthened further.
The Texas factory activity index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, increased for the eleventh month in a row in March, rising from 10.8 to 17.1.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, retreated 3.68 percent to end at 13.88.
In other markets, the U.S. dollars slipped against most major currencies Monday. In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1. 3775 dollars from 1.3751 dollars in the previous session. The dollar bought 103.21 Japanese yen, higher than 102.80 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices lost as U.S. and Russia tried to solve the Ukraine crisis through diplomatic talks.
The weekend talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did not come to any agreement. But market took it as a sign that both sides appeared to have been open for exchanging views.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery moved down 9 cents to settle at 101.58 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for May delivery lost 31 cents to close at 107.76 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange closed with a loss for a fourth session in a row, with a slew of economic reports expected to create some volatile sessions throughout the week.
The most active gold contract for June delivery fell 10.5 dollars, or 0.8 percent, to settle at 1,283.8 dollars per ounce.