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Dow closes near 32,000 as Powell reinforces inflation message

Stock markets surged Wednesday, turning around days of minor losses that extended into Wednesday morning as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reassured markets that inflation remained a distant problem.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record at 31,961 on Wednesday, an increase of 425 points or 1.4 percent, after grazing 32,000 for the first time in intraday trading. The S&P 500 darted up 44 points, or 1.1 percent, but remained below its recent record.

Stocks have been volatile in recent weeks, pushing new upper bounds on hopes of a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic before retreating on fears that it may overheat, leading to inflation and higher interest rates.

In his second day of testimony before Congress, Powell said it could take at least three years to hit the Fed's target, reassuring markets that interest rates would remain low until that point.

Congress is advancing President BidenJoe Biden28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas ceasefire Franklin Graham says Trump comeback would 'be a very tough thing to do' Schools face new pressures to reopen for in-person learning MORE's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, with Democratic leaders promising to pass it by March 14, when emergency unemployment benefits are expected to run out.