Markets closed slightly higher on Wednesday after the minutes of Fed’s meeting hinted that policy makers aren’t worried about inflation briefly running above the target level and that it would not result in faster interest rate hikes. Following the news, stocks rallied, paring earlier losses resulting out of geopolitical tension. All three major index made marginal gains to end the day in positive territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.2% to close at 24,886.81. The S&P 500 rose 0.3% to close at 2,733.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 7,425.96, advancing 0.6%. A total of 6.4 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, lower than the last 20-session average of 6.6 billion shares. Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.07-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.15-to-1 ratio favored advancing issues.
How did the Benchmark Perform?
The Dow gained 52.40 led by a rally in shares of Boeing (BA - Free Report) gained 1.2%, while McDonald’s (MCD - Free Report) surged 1.4%. McDonald’s has a Zack Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (String Buy) stocks here.
The S&P 500 gained 8.85 points. Shares rallied on news of decline in interest rates with the Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLU) and Real Estate Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLRE) gaining 0.9% and 0.8%, respectively. Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors ended the day in positive territory. The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 47.50 points.
Inflations Fears, Interest Rate Hike Worries Ease
The highly awaited minutes of Fed’s May 2 meeting brought a sigh of relief to investors. Investors had been worrying that inflation would continue to rise and feared that the Fed would go ahead with more interest rate hikes.
However, most policy makers are comfortable with inflation running temporarily above its target, assuring that rate hike will be gradual in nature. Rate sensitive stocks rallied on the news. Per CME’s FedWatch tool, Fed funds futures market are predicting less than a 40% chance of a fourth rate hike in 2018.
Having said that, policy makers supported a rate hike in June. Federal funds futures market Investors expect more than a 90% chance of a June rate hike.
Geopolitical Tensions Continue
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that the scheduled meeting with North Korea’s premier Kim Jong Un might not happen as planned. This saw markets reacting negatively. The negative sentiments continued, which saw markets opening lower on Thursday. However, the losses were later pared after the minutes of Fed’s meeting were released.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department on orders of Trump started a probe into whether car and truck imports threaten national security. The investigation would be carried out under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Trump is also considering slapping 25% import duty on automobile imports. This saw shares of major foreign carmakers like Toyota (T - Free Report) and Honda (HMC - Free Report) taking a hit on Thursday.
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