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Market Recap: Stocks Up (But Volatile) on Fed Talk

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Markets were up today:

▲ Dow: +0.69 percent

▲ Nasdaq: +0.60 percent

▲ S&P: +0.51 percent

Precious metals:

▲ Gold: up +2.31 percent to $1,690.78 an ounce

▲ Silver: up +4.59 percent to settle at $31.68

Commodities:

▲ Oil: +1.79 percent

Market were up because:

It took a while, but investors eventually decided they liked what they heard from Ben Bernanke, and stock indexes rose enough on Friday to put them into positive territory for August.

Stocks gyrated after the Federal Reserve chairman spoke on Friday morning. They first gave up their morning gains, then bolted to their highs for the day, before settled in-between.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day up 90.13 points at 13,090.84.

A half-hour after trading began, Bernanke declared that the Fed is ready to take more action to help an economy that's "far from satisfactory."

Investors have been watching to see whether the Fed will buy more bonds to further lower long-term interest rates. Stocks fell initially, however, after it became clear that no such announcement was coming Friday and that Bernanke had stopped short of committing the Fed to any specific move.

Still, he said the Fed "should not rule out" new policies to improve the job market.

Stocks rebounded once investors parsed his comments. At one point the Dow was up as many as 151 points.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed up by 7.10 points at 1,406.58. The Nasdaq rose 18.25 points to close at 3,066.96.

The Dow finished the month of August up by 0.8 percent. The S&P 500 rose more than 2 percent for the month, and the Nasdaq rose more than 4 percent.

Bernanke's comments on Friday got more uniform reception in energy markets, which tend to rise on bullish signs for the economy. Oil prices jumped $1.81 to $96.43 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas and heating oil both rose more than 1 percent.

Stocks rose in nine out of 10 industry groups in the S&P 500. Energy stocks and materials stocks had the biggest gains, each up 1 percent. Utility stocks declined slightly.

About 2.9 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange, which is less than average but normal for a late-summer week.

Also Friday, the Commerce Department said factory orders rose 2.8 percent in July on surging demand for autos and commercial planes. However, orders for core capital goods - a key measure of investment spending - dropped 4 percent. That was that figure's fourth decline in five months.

Investors seemed more focused on Bernanke's comments and the overall higher factory orders, though.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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