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Apple and banks propel Wall Street to record high

Major U.S. stock indexes hit record highs on Tuesday, led by bank stocks after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it would be unwise to wait too long to raise interest rates. Apple (AAPL. O) rose as much as 1.25 percent to an all-time high of $134.95, contributing to gains in the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite indexes. Yellen said delaying rate hikes could force the U.S. central bank to raise rates quicker down the line, which could risk a recession. She also expressed uncertainty over economic policy under the Trump administration. Banks, expected to gain from higher interest rates, led the market higher. Goldman Sachs (GS. N) rose 1.49 percent and Bank of America (BAC. N) added 2.97 percent. The S&P 500 financial index . SPSY rose 1.3 percent. President Donald Trump's pro-business stance sparked a record-setting rally in stocks following his November election. However, he has given scant detail on his policies, leaving the Fed with limited visibility about the economy's future direction. Speaking to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Yellen did not indicate whether the Fed still planned to raise rates three times this year, nor did she indicate whether a hike might come in March or in June, as most analysts expect.

"With the new president, there is still the uncertainty of the economic policy," said Jeff Carbone, co-founder of Cornerstone Financial Partners in Charlotte, North Carolina. "How much growth we get out of the market will affect policymaking and how quickly they need to react." At 2:04 p.m. (1904 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average . DJI was up 0.32 percent at 20,477.2, while the S&P 500 . SPX had gained 0.30 percent to 2,335.32, both reversing losses from earlier in the day. The Nasdaq Composite . IXIC added 0.26 percent to 5,778.93.

Yellen's comments lifted the dollar . DXY and U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR. Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the utilities . SPLRCU and real estate . SPLRCR sectors, which tend to fall when Treasury yields rise. General Motors (GM. N) added 4.64 percent after Peugeot owner PSA Group (PEUP. PA) said it is in talks to buy GM's European Opel business.

Exclusive: Yellen brushes off warning, says Fed has authority on global talks NEW YORK Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in response to a warning from a U.S. congressman to halt global regulatory talks in the early stages of Donald Trump's presidency, said in a letter the Fed has the authority and responsibility to consult with its foreign counterparts and does so to benefit the United States.

U.S. investors brace for mounting political risks as they decode Trump NEW YORK Barry James built up his $4 billion mutual fund largely by studying balance sheets, earnings and market share. In the last few weeks, however, he has realized that he must look at a new force in the market: U.S. President Donald Trump.

Aetna, Humana walk away from $34 billion deal after court ruling Health insurers Aetna Inc and Humana Inc walked away from their $34 billion merger deal on Tuesday, after a U.S. judge ruled in January the combination would stifle competition in the private Medicare Advantage program for retirees.

Wall Street rises to records as Trump ignites tax cut hopes

Wall Street's three main indexes hit record highs on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he would make a major tax announcement in a few weeks."Lowering the overall tax burden on American business is big league," Trump said during a White House meeting with airline industry executives. U.S. stocks have rallied since Trump's Nov. 8 election amid expectations he will not only usher in lower corporate taxes, but also reduced regulations and increased infrastructure spending. The rally had stagnated in recent days as investors seek details about Trump's economic policy agenda. Financials . SPSY, which have soared since the election, were the best-performing group, up 1.3 percent after three sessions of declines, while energy shares . SPNY gained 0.9 percent. Those sectors stand to benefit should lower taxes spur economic activity as interest rates and the demand for energy rise, said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank, in Cleveland. “Given the groups that responded and the enthusiasms within the market, it seems to be the tax comments that lit off the rally today," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank, in Cleveland. But, McCain said, “when you get to these levels of market sentiment, usually the returns are much more modest and you’re much more subject to a pullback."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average . DJI rose 134.14 points, or 0.67 percent, to 20,188.48, the S&P 500 . SPX gained 14.72 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,309.39 and the Nasdaq Composite . IXIC added 37.58 points, or 0.66 percent, to 5,720.03. All three indexes hit new intraday all-time highs. The utilities sector . SPLRCU, which is considered a defensive bet, fell 0.9 percent, the worst-performing group.

The focus on Washington comes with U.S. companies in the midst of their corporate reporting season. With about 70 percent of the S&P 500 having reported results, fourth-quarter earnings are on track to have climbed 8.5 percent, which would be the best performance since the third quarter of 2014, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Shares of Viacom (VIAB. O), Kellogg (K. N) and Prudential (PRU. N) all gained after their respective quarterly results. Coca-Cola (KO. N) forecast a surprise drop in full-year profit. Its shares fell 2.4 and were the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P.

Repubican Hensarling plans to ease Wall Street rules: memo WASHINGTON The Republican leader of the House Financial Services Committee plans to scale back banking reforms, curb the consumer finance agency and ease regulations on financial institutions and companies looking to raise capital, according to a proposal seen by Reuters on Thursday.

Coca-Cola forecasts drop in 2017 profit amid refranchising Coca-Cola Co forecast a surprise drop in full-year profit as costs related to refranchising its U.S. bottling operations are expected to be higher than previously anticipated.

Fed's Bullard says rates can remain low through 2017 ST. LOUIS U.S. interest rates can likely remain low through at least 2017, with no clear sense yet of whether the Trump administration's policies will spark higher inflation or growth, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said on Thursday.