Bank stocks surge again

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Thursday as banks resumed their steep upward climb and retailers moved higher. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen emphasized that the Fed plans to raise interest rates, which will help banks make more money from lending.

Stocks started the day with small gains and moved higher following Yellen’s testimony to Congress. Banks once again marched higher as investors cheered the latest indication that interest rates will rise from their current ultra-low levels. Retailers also rose after strong earnings from Best Buy, while food and household goods makers struggled after weak results from Wal-Mart and J.M. Smucker.

Almost all of the S&P 500’s gains since the presidential election have gone to financial stocks. They lagged the market for much of this year, but they’re now trading at their highest levels since May 2008, months before the financial crisis peaked.

Investors hope banks will benefit from higher interest rates, faster economic growth and lighter regulation under President-elect Trump.

“I wouldn’t expect we’re going to see the entire repeal of Dodd-Frank, but we could certainly see some changes that are positive for the financial services sector,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones.