Wall Street soars on Ukraine peace talks, Fed on tap

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  • Big banks rise in anticipation of higher interest rates
  • Fed policy statement expected at 2 p.m. ET
  • Chinese ADRs rise on Beijing’s decision to support markets
  • Indices: Dow 1.07%, S&P 1.38%, Nasdaq 2.05%

March 16 (Reuters) – Major Wall Street indexes jumped on Wednesday, led by gains in technology and financial stocks, as signs of progress in peace talks between Ukraine and Russia revived sentiment ahead of a Interest rate hike widely expected by the Federal Reserve.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors rose in early trading, with financials (.SPSY) up 2.1%. Morgan Stanley (MS.N) climbed 3.5% as major banks advanced ahead of the first rate hike since 2018.

Megacap names Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) added 1.3% each, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said negotiations were becoming “more realistic”, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “some hope for compromise”. Read more

Global sentiment was also lifted by China’s promise to roll out more stimulus to the economy and maintain market stability, fueling a rally in US-listed Chinese stocks. Read more

The Fed is seen raising interest rates by at least 25 basis points at the end of its two-day meeting later today, in what would be the first of a series of rate hikes this year as that it intensifies the fight against stubbornly high rates of inflation.

The policy statement is expected at 2 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. GMT) and will be followed by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference. Traders will be watching the updated quarterly economic and interest rate projections closely for clues as to how quickly rates will rise. Read more

“Everyone is expecting a 25-point rate hike later today, but that will likely come with more cautious but not overly hawkish commentary,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota. Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut.

“People are mostly looking for projections on rate hikes going forward and we expect the Fed won’t give up on the number of hikes it’s planning for this year, but it could take a slower approach for the make.”

As of 9:54 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 359.28 points, or 1.07%, at 33,903.62, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 58.71 points, or 1.38%, to 4,321.16, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) rose 265.62 points, or 2.05%, to 13,214.24.

The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX), also known as Wall Street’s Fear Gauge, fell to 28.26 points, its lowest level since Feb. 25.

Data released earlier showed U.S. retail sales rose moderately in February as more expensive gasoline and food forced households to cut spending on other goods, which could dampen economic growth this trimester. Read more

US-listed shares of Baidu, Alibaba Group, JD.com, Tencent Music (TME.N), Pinduoduo Inc (PDD.O) Didi Global (DIDI.N) jumped 17.8% to 42.8 % as China’s securities regulator said it was working to reach an agreement on China-US cooperation on audit oversight.

Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) gained almost 6% after Axios reported that Canadian retail company Hudson’s Bay was considering a bid for the US department store operator. Read more

Advancing issues outnumbered declining issues with a 5.58-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 5.16-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 34 new lows.

(This story corrects company name to Dakota Wealth from SlateStone Wealth in paragraph 6)

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Reporting by Devik Jain and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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