* Dow, S&P 500 on pace for record closing highs
* Bernanke comments ease fears of stimulus cuts
* Advanced Micro Devices Inc jumps after upgrade
* Indexes up: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 1 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct
By Alison Griswold
NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks jumped on Thursday, with the S&P 500 index climbing above its all-time closing high, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reasserted that monetary policy will remain accommodative for some time.
More than 80 percent of shares on the New York Stock Exchange were higher on Thursday and all 10 S&P 500 industry sectors advanced, led by gains in materials and technology shares.
Bernanke sparked a rally in equity futures Wednesday night after he said the U.S. unemployment rate of 7.6 percent overstated the health of the job market. “A highly accommodative policy is needed for the foreseeable future,” he said.
“Rather than being hawkish, Bernanke is saying the right thing that the market wants to hear,” said Yu-Dee Chang, chief trader of ACE Investments in McLean, Virginia.
The market has rebounded from a selloff begun in late May after Bernanke first raised the prospect of reductions in the Fed’s bond-buying program. By the June 24 close, the S&P 500 had fallen 5.8 percent from its May 21 all-time closing high of 1,669.16.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 131.77 points, or 0.86 percent, at 15,423.43. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 16.37 points, or 0.99 percent, at 1,668.98 after rising as high as 1,671.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 42.84 points, or 1.22 percent, at 3,563.60.
“Psychologically, being so close to a new closing high, you can feel that’s where the traders want to push it to,” Chang said.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc jumped 10.6 percent to $4.40 and was the S&P 500’s top performer after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock. The PHLX semiconductor index rose 1.7 percent.
The benchmark S&P 500 is up 3.3 percent since July 2. Should it close higher on Thursday, the index’s string of six days closing higher would be the longest stretch since early March. Gains have come on optimism over improving economic data, anticipation of a better-than-expected earnings season and reduced concern about cuts to the Fed’s $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.
Data from Thomson Reuters showed that analysts expect S&P 500 companies’ second-quarter earnings to have grown 2.5 percent from a year ago, with revenue up 1.5 percent.
Earnings reports are expected on Friday from JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo.
Celgene Corp, up 6.7 percent to $133.48, was among the top performers for both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 after the company said a late-stage trial of its cancer drug, Revlimid, met the main goal of improving survival in newly diagnosed blood cancer patients.
Microsoft Corp rose 1.7 percent to $35.30 after the company announced a reorganization designed to streamline the software company’s operations.