NEW YORK CITY, RAW – Wall Street’s main indexes have jumped, led by gains in technology and financial stocks, as signs of progress in Ukraine-Russia peace talks lift sentiment ahead of a widely expected interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors rose in early trading, with financials up 2.1 per cent.
Morgan Stanley climbed 3.5 per cent as big banks gained in anticipation of the first rate increase since 2018.
Megacap names Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp added 1.3 per cent each, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said negotiations were becoming “more realistic” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was “some hope for compromise”.
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The global mood was also lifted by China’s promise to roll out more stimulus for the economy and keep markets stable, fuelling a rally in US-listed Chinese shares.
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates by at least 25 basis points at the end of its two-day meeting later in the day in what would be the first in a series of rate hikes this year as it steps up the fight against stubbornly high inflation.
The policy statement on Wednesday will be followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s news conference.
Traders will be closely watching the updated quarterly economic and interest rate projections for clues on how fast rates will increase.
“Everybody expects a 25-point rate hike later today but it is probably going to be accompanied by a more cautious but not overly hawkish commentary,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut.
“People are looking mainly for projections about rate hikes going forward and we expect that the Fed is not going to back off from the number of hikes that they are planning for this year but they may take a slower approach to do it.”
In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 359.28 points, or 1.07 per cent, at 33,903.62, the S&P 500 was up 58.71 points, or 1.38 per cent, at 4,321.16, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 265.62 points, or 2.05 per cent, at 13,214.24.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell to 28.26 points, its lowest level since February 25.
Data released earlier showed US retail sales increased moderately in February as more expensive petrol and food forced households to cut back spending on other goods, which could restrain economic growth this quarter.
US-listed shares of Baidu, Alibaba Group , JD.com, Tencent Music, Pinduoduo Inc Didi Global surged between 17.8 per cent and 42.8 per cent as China’s securities regulator said it was striving to reach an agreement on China-US audit supervision cooperation.
Kohl’s Corp gained nearly 6.0 per cent after Axios reported Canadian retail company Hudson’s Bay is considering a bid for the US department store operator.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by 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.