US stocks surge

US stocks rallied sharply in opening trade Monday as Wall Street rode optimism spurred by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke's remarks and Hurricane Irene's lighter-than-expected damage.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 162.72 points (1.44 percent) to 11,447.26 in the first 10 minutes of trading.

File image. Credit: THE PHOTO HOLIC

The broader S&P 500 advanced 19.17 points (1.63 percent) to 1,195.97, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite climbed 40.64 points (1.64 percent) to 2,520.49.

Stocks ended the week Friday higher, after four straight weeks of decline, lifted by a key speech by Bernanke indicating the central bank expects economic growth will accelerate in the second half of the year.

Lingering optimism stemming from Bernanke's speech “has helped the bulls resume the reins, despite the central banker's ambiguous stance on another round of quantitative easing,” said Andrea Kramer at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

“In addition, Tropical Storm Irene's relatively tame path of destruction has also sparked optimism,” she said.

Hurricane Irene, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm, largely spared New Yorkers as it tore through the US east coast over the weekend. - Sapa-AFP