Stocks surge as Fed hints at slower rate hikes
U.S. stocks rocketed to their biggest gain in eight months Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell hinted that the Fed might not raise interest rates much further. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 617 points.
In a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Powell said that rates are close to “neutral,” the level at which they neither hold back growth nor aid it. That might mean the Fed isn’t planning to raise interest rates far above their current levels. Powell also appeared to suggest that the Fed might pause its cycle of interest rate increases next year so the central bank can assess the effects of its actions.
That relieved investors who feel the nine-year-old bull market could come to an end if rates rise too fast. Those worries have contributed to the market’s big slump in October and November. The other major factor is the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are scheduled to discuss their differences this weekend at a meeting of the Group of 20.
The S&P 500 index surged 61.61 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,743.78, its biggest gain since March 26. The S&P 500 has gained 4.2 percent this week, but would still need to rise another 6.8 percent to return to its record high from late September.