Wall Street rises as US Fed signals rate hikes may slow

NEW YORK, Nov 24 — Wall Street’s main indexes edged higher on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s November meeting showed interest rate hikes may slow soon.

A “substantial majority” of policymakers agreed it would “likely soon be appropriate” to slow the pace of interest rate hikes, according to the minutes.

“What equity markets needed to see for the recent strength to continue was what we got from the minutes,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Since the Fed’s last meeting on Nov. 1-2, investors have been more optimistic that price pressure has started to ease, signaling smaller rate hikes could curtail inflation.

“What I think you’re seeing is renewed investor enthusiasm fueled by those who see that beautiful light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel. And there has been so much money on the sidelines that is rushing back into the markets and waiting to get back into the action,” said portfolio manager Moez Kassam, at Anson Funds.

At 2:51pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 136.27 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 34,234.37, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 25.74 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 4,029.32 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 121.15 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 11,295.56.11,295.56

Trading volume was thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, with the US stock market open for a half-session on Friday.

Earlier in the morning, a mixed bag of economic data led to a drop in yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, helping drive stocks up.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week and US business activity contracted for a fifth straight month in November. Consumer sentiment ticked higher and home sales rose above expectations.

Heavyweight stocks, including Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Meta Platforms Inc META.O, rose nearly 1 per cent.

Tesla Inc TSLA.O jumped 7.4 per cent, with Citigroup upgrading the electric-vehicle maker’s stock to “neutral” from a “sell” rating.

Deere & Co DE.N jumped 5.5 per cent after the farm equipment maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

Nordstrom Inc JWN.N fell 4.5 per cent as the fashion retailer cut its profit forecast amid steep markdowns to attract inflation-wary customers.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.81-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.66-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 82 new highs and 112 new lows. — Reuters