Wall Street held on to gains following the release of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement, which said the central bank will keep rates steady, but did not give investors more clarity on when the Fed is likely to begin raising interest rates.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 120 points higher, or 0.68% to 17750. The S&P 500 rose 15 points, or 0.73% to 2108, while the Nasdaq Composite added 22 points, or 0.44% to 5111.
Energy again led the S&P 500 sectors in positive territory, rising 1.28%.
In the U.S. all eyes were on the Federal Reserve Wednesday after the central bank’s policy setting committee said it maintained previous rate guidance, giving no clearer indication about when it will begin to raise interest rates from a decade of historic lows.
Odds are still on the first increase coming after the committee’s September meeting, however, some believe it could be delayed until December, or even the first part of 2016.
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Laura LaRosa, director of portfolio management at Glenmede, said it’s not so much if and when the Fed begins to hike rates, but what the pace of rate hikes will be once increases are initiated.
“If rates go up in September and everything slows down after that when you’ll see some rate hikes over the course of the year that are small and scattered, the markets are probably going to take that well,” she said. “But if you see a hike in September, and then again in December, it might make the markets more nervous and uncertain.”
LaRosa said she doesn’t believe the pace of rate hikes will be consistent and will be a “long process,” meaning the central bank will most likely hike rates for the first time, wait and assess the economic situation, and then raise rates for a second time.
The Fed has insisted any decision on rates will be dependent on economic data. In its statement, the FOMC upgraded its assessment on the labor market in the U.S., and said it sees improvement with “solid job gains and a decline in unemployment.
“They really kept this thought process that they’ll continue to watch the labor market throughout their decision making, but I was surprised to see that. I thought that piece of the statement would have been taken out,” LaRosa added.
No doubt the Fed will continue to monitor economic data in America, and there’s no shortage of updates on the calendar in the next two weeks with the first print of second-quarter GDP out on Thursday, followed by the July jobs report next Friday.
Ahead of the Fed’s statement on Wednesday, investors got the latest look at the housing market. Pending home sales posted a surprise drop in June, falling 1.8% for the month compared to forecasts for a 1% pick up.
Gains in the U.S. came as worries over China’s equity markets subsided after the nation’s securities regulator announced an effort to buy shares in an effort to calm the market, while the central bank dropped hints of more easing to come.
China’s Shanghai Composite index jumped 3.44%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.47%, and Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.13%.
Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG, wrote in a note that the global market moves are essentially caused from a lack of outwardly negative macro news, replacing pessimism with a dash of optimism.
“Although a quick glance at the history books proves that stories involving central banks trying to bend the will of the free markets to their own will don’t end well,” he said.
Elsewhere in the world, European equities took a pause ahead of the Fed statement. The Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks large-cap companies in the eurozone, rose 0.61%. The German Dax climbed 0.35%; the French CAC 40 jumped 0.82%, while the UK’s FTSE 100 rose 1.17%.
Focus in the U.S. also remained on second-quarter earnings with Facebook (FB) set to release its results after the closing bell. Analysts expected the social-media giant to reveal earnings of 47 cents per share.
Meanwhile, after posting higher-than-expected earnings after the bell Tuesday, Twitter (TWTR) shares continued to drop, falling to a new 52-week low. Despite the beat on headline numbers, investors ditched the stock after the company saw little growth in its active users, pared back its capex spending figures, lowered the low end of its 3Q outlook, and gave no indication of when an appointment of its next CEO might come. Twitter shares dropped 14%.
Yelp (YELP)shares also continued to come under pressure in early trading after the company lowered its full-year revenue outlook amid slow sales growth and the discontinuation of its brand advertising product by the end of the year. Shares plunged as much as 28%.
In commodities, U.S. crude oil prices reversed earlier losses after weekly inventory data from the Energy Information Administration showed stockpiles fell by 4.2 million barrels to 459.68 million. The decline was steeper than the 0.2 million barrel drawdown expected.
The data helped push global oil prices higher. U.S. crude settled up 1.50% to $48.69 a barrel. Brent, the international benchmark, rose 0.13% to $53.43 a barrel.
Gold prices hovered around five-year lows, slipping 0.12% to $1,095 a troy ounce.
In currencies, the euro traded 0.33% lower against the U.S. dollar. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 0.020 of a percentage point to 2.270%. Bond yields move in the opposite direction of prices.