Stocks manage to extend gains to second day

Wal-Mart Storeswmt rose $1.37, or 2.7%, to $51.88 after the world's largest retailer reported better-than-expected second quarter earnings. Wal-Mart also raised the low end of its profit guidance, saying it expects shoppers to continue to be attracted by its low-priced items.

Other retail stocks were mixed following the government's weak sales report. Macy's m slipped 25 cents to $16.15, while Best Buybby rose 51 cents to $37.01.

Investors have sent stocks soaring the past few weeks as improving corporate profits and signs of life in the troubled housing industry gave the market hope that the economy is healing. The Fed's comments Wednesday affirmed for investors that their recent bets had been warranted.

Still, with the news flow tapering and trading light amid the summer slowdown on Wall Street, analysts warn it might be difficult to keep the market's momentum going.

The S&P 500 index has risen 15.2% in little more than a month and 49.7% since it fell to a 12-year low in early March.

Treasurys rose higher after the successful auction of 30-year bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.61% from 3.72% late Wednesday.

The dollar fell against the euro and the British pound, while gold and other metal prices rose.

Light, sweet crude rose 36 cents to settle at $70.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Earlier Thursday, Asian markets closed higher on the Fed's statement, while European markets rose after new data showed recessions have ended in Germany and France.

Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.1%. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.8%, Germany's DAX index rose 1.0%, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.5%.

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