U.S. Stocks Climb as Fed Hints at June Interest-Rate Increase

By Aaron Kuriloff and Christopher Whittall Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as minutes from the Federal Reserve signaled interest rates could rise in June.

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Many investors and analysts view rate increases as a vote of confidence in the U.S. economy, but some said the central bank's assessment of growth and the details offered on how it plans to pare its balance sheet suggested officials would continue to move at a gradual pace.

U.S. government bonds and their stock market proxies gained Wednesday after minutes from the central bank's latest meetings were released. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 74.51 points, or 0.4%, to 21012.42. The S&P 500 gained 5.97 points, or 0.2%, to a fresh high of 2404.39 and the Nasdaq Composite added 24.31 points, or 0.4%, to 6163.02.

"You've got a lot of things stuck in a range because the forces are pretty balanced," said Russ Koesterich, co-portfolio manager of BlackRock's Global Allocation Fund. "The economy's doing OK, but not taking off. The Fed's hiking, but doing it gently. And investors are nervous about high valuations and low volatility, but there are few other places to go."

Utilities stocks in the S&P 500 rose 0.7% and real-estate shares gained 0.6%. Those sectors are often considered bondlike because of their relatively high payouts, and investors tend to buy them when they're nervous about other parts of the market.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.266% from 2.285% Tuesday. Yields fall as prices rise. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the buck against a basket of 16 other currencies, slipped 0.2%.

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Elsewhere in U.S. stocks, shares of miners and materials companies in the S&P 500 gained 0.7%. Dow component DuPont rose $1.04, or 1.3%, to $78.38.

Tiffany shares lost 8.11, or 8.7%, to 85.03 in its largest percentage decrease since 2015 after the jeweler reported that comparable-store sales fell 3% from the prior year during its first quarter, worse than analysts expected.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose less than 0.1%. Chinese stocks pared initial losses to end higher after Moody's Investors Service lowered the country's credit rating for the first time since 1989. The Shanghai Composite Index notched a gain of less than 0.1%.

"I don't think [the downgrade] came as a surprise to people invested in China," said Hao Hong, head of research at BoCom International in Hong Kong.

Most other markets in the region ended higher. A recent rebound in the dollar against the yen helped send Japan's Nikkei Stock Average up 0.7%, while Australian stocks rose 0.2%.

Riva Gold contributed to this article.

Write to Aaron Kuriloff at aaron.kuriloff@wsj.com and Christopher Whittall at christopher.whittall@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 24, 2017 16:51 ET (20:51 GMT)