U.S. stocks traded higher Friday, helped by gains in Nike, after central banker comments added further support to a diverging trajectory between monetary policy in Europe and the United States.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 100 points in opening trade as Nike jumped more than 4.5 percent.
The athletic apparel and footwear maker after the close Thursday increased its dividend by 14 percent, declared a 2-for-1 stock split, and announced a $12 billion stock buyback program.
Ahead of the open, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the ECB stands ready to “do what (it) must to raise inflation as quickly as possible” if it decides current policy isn’t stimulating the sluggish euro zone economy.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said after the close Thursday that “some major central banks” could move away from near-zero interest rate policy “in the relatively near future.”
“That narrative continues to play out as expected. We’ve got a day where we’ve confirmed our position about the Fed and the path of least resistance is higher,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and New York Fed President William Dudley were also due to speak on the economy Friday.
“It’s all about the free money,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital. “All year they’ve been telling us they’re going to raise rates. Pay attention to what the Fed does, not what they say.”
The major averages are on track to close the week with gains of more than 2.5 percent, after stocks closed a touch lower Thursday to hold the bulk of Wednesday’s post-Fed minutes gains.
“I think the market’s really in no man’s land, to be honest. There’s a lot of ‘I don’t know’ out there,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst The Lindsey Group.
Investors will also closely eye oil prices, as the December futures contract rolls off the board, and January becomes the front-month contract at the Nymex at the end of the session.
The January contract settled down at $41.72 per barrel Thursday, while the December contract fell 21 cents at $40.54 per barrel.
On the data front, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey is the only key data point set to be released Friday.