Tech stocks, Fed view help Wall Street climb


Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Friday, with gains in technology stocks helping claw back some of the week’s losses, after the Federal Reserve calmed investors’ nerves by saying interest rate hikes would continue as planned this year.

Looking past the recent stock market sell-off and concerns about inflation, the Fed said it expected economic growth to remain steady and that it saw no serious risks on the horizon that might pause its planned pace of rate hikes.

Investors are expecting the Fed to raise rates three times this year, beginning with its next meeting in March, the first under new Chair Jerome Powell.

“Overall it was pretty dovish. Yes, he said we’re going to have to raise rates, but we are going to have to do that gradually,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.

Powell’s first public outing will be next week, when he will testify separately before the House and Senate committees.

“There is a potential for volatility next week in Powell’s Q&A, as well as economic data. The chances of the market getting surprises are better than average,” said Tom Essaye, founder of investment research firm Sevens Report.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.58 percent to 25,108.06 and the S&P 500 was up 0.8 percent at 2,725.59. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.85 percent to 7,271.46.

While the Dow and the S&P are still on track to post small losses for the week, the Nasdaq is set for its second straight week of gains.

The Fed comments helped US Treasury 10-year note yields ease to 2.8678 percent, from a high of 2.9570 percent it hit on Wednesday when the Fed minutes showed policymakers believed inflation would perk up.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc were among the biggest gainers on the S&P 500, rising 9.8 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

The two companies created from the split of Hewlett Packard Co in 2015, reported strong results and HPE also announced a plan to return USD 7 billion to shareholders.

“HPE is a stock that you don’t normally consider a leader, but those earnings were really impressive,” said Kinahan.

The S&P technology index rose 1.3 percent, with chipmakers among the major gainers.

Intel was up 3.5 percent and Micron gained nearly 5 percent, helping the Philadelphia semiconductor index up 1.02 percent.

Blue Buffalo Pet Products jumped 17 percent after General Mills said it would buy the natural pet food maker for USD 8 billion. General Mills was the biggest loser on S&P 500, falling about 3.7 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,965 to 820. On the Nasdaq, 1,638 issues rose and 1,074 fell.moneycontrol