NEW YORK: Wall Street’s main indexes climbed on Wednesday after two turbulent sessions and ahead of the outcome of a Federal Reserve policy meeting, with a stellar outlook from Microsoft boosting technology stocks.
The Fed policy decision is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), with the U.S. central bank expected to signal the start of an interest rate hike cycle beginning March.
The announcement will be followed by Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s news conference, which will be parsed for clues on the magnitude and pace of hikes for the year and strategy for shrinking the central bank’s roughly $9 trillion balance sheet.
Fed funds futures have fully priced in a quarter-point tightening for the Fed’s March meeting, and about three more for 2022.
“Don’t expect any of those potential ‘black swan’ type surprises from the Fed like ending quantitative easing today or signaling a 50 basis point rate hike,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“The Fed having a meeting in the middle of the earnings season is unique. It may calm the waters and we’ll see a swing back quickly to the (reporting) season and that tends to be a positive.”
All of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced, with technology and consumer discretionary taking the charge.
Rate-sensitive growth stocks have recently been roiled by fears of aggressive Fed action to combat inflation. Rising geopolitical tensions around Russia and Ukraine have also weighed on the market, with the S&P 500 index flirting with a correction twice this week.
At 11:23 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 355.11 points, or 1.04%, at 34,652.84, the S&P 500 was up 66.12 points, or 1.52%, at 4,422.57, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 291.15 points, or 2.15%, at 13,830.45.
The S&P 500 index is now down nearly 7.7% from its record closing peak on Jan. 3, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen 13.8% so far this year.
Goldman Sachs told clients that markets are nearing levels that are considered good entry points for longer-term investors, while Citibank advised investors to consider buying into market dips.
Microsoft Corp gained 4.3% after estimating current-quarter revenue broadly ahead of market estimates, driven in part by its cloud business. Chipmaker Texas Instruments Inc rose 4.7% as it also gave a strong outlook.
The broader Philadelphia SE semiconductor index jumped 3.7%.
“While the evidence so far suggests that earnings momentum remains strong, lofty valuations among U.S. stocks give little scope for disappointments,” said Paul O’Connor, head of multi-asset at Janus Henderson Investors.
Analysts expect S&P 500 companies’ earnings to grow 24.4% year-over-year, according to Refinitiv.
Tesla Inc added 3.5% ahead of its quarterly results after market close.
Barbie maker Mattel jumped 9.3% on winning back rights to make toys based on Disney Princesses from Hasbro Inc.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.81-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.89-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and 42 new lows.