Wednesday's FOMC minutes showed that despite some dissent, the Federal Reserve is set to press on with its $85 billion-per-month asset purchase program.
The continuation of the Fed's dovish monetary policy along with optimism about the upcoming earnings season triggered a rally on Wall Street with the Dow climbing triple digits on the day and the Nasdaq jumping almost 2 percent.
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Both the Dow and S&P closed Wednesday's trading session at new record highs as the U.S. stock market continues its torrid start to the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 127 points, or 0.87 percent, to close at 14,801.
The S&P 500 climbed 19 points, or 1.22 percent, to 1,588.
The Nasdaq Composite registered a gain of 59 points, or 1.83 percent, to finish at 3,297.
The Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from its latest meeting on Wednesday. A number of FOMC members said that the Federal Reserve should begin tapering its quantitative easing program in 2013 and move to end it by the beginning of next year. FOMC members thought that if the outlook for labor market conditions improved as anticipated, it would probably be appropriate to slow purchases later in the year and to stop them by year-end."
For the time being, however, the committee determined that it will continue with the Fed's $85 billion per month asset purchase program until the labor-market outlook has "improved substantially."
Crude oil prices were mixed on the session with U.S. benchmark WTI crude rising and Brent futures falling. Near the close of equities, WTI contracts trading on NYMEX were up 0.32 percent to $94.45. Brent crude futures had fallen 0.75 percent to $105.51. Natural gas rallied nearly 2 percent on Wednesday to $4.09.
Precious metals fell on the session as stocks rose sharply. At last check, COMEX gold futures were down 1.70 percent to $1,561.40 while silver futures had shed 0.92 percent to $27.69. Despite the "risk-on" environment, copper fell 0.62 percent Wednesday.
In the agricultural complex, corn and wheat futures headed in opposite directions. Heading into the closing bell, corn was trading up 0.74 percent while wheat had lost a little more than 1.50 percent. Movers in soft commodities included cotton, which rose 1 percent, and coffee, which added a little less than 0.50 percent.
Bond prices fell sharply in the wake of the stock market rally and the FOMC minutes. Near the close of equities, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) had lost 1.31 percent to $119.99. As prices fell, yields rose.
The 2-Year Note yield remained unchanged at 0.23 percent. The yield on the 5-Year Note jumped four basis points to 0.73 percent. The 10-Year Note yield climbed five basis points to 1.81 percent and the yield on the 30-Year Bond moved seven basis points higher to 3.00 percent.
The U.S. dollar was moderately higher on the session. At last check, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, has added 0.18 percent to $22.45.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last down 0.31 percent to $1.3059. The greenback continued its meteoric rise against the Japanese yen on Wednesday with the USD/JPY gaining a little less than 0.50 percent. Volatility in other major currency pairs was limited on the session with the biggest mover being the AUD/USD, which rose 0.34 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX continued to fall on Wednesday amid an ongoing rally in stocks. The widely watched barometer of market fear lost 2.57 percent on the day to 12.51.
Volume was light even as the Dow and S&P hit new all-time highs. Only around 112 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares traded hands on the day compared to a 3-month daily average of around 123 million.
NII Holdings (NASDAQ:NIHD) continued its huge rally which started last week. The company sold its Peruvian Nextel business to Chilean telecom operator Entel for $400 million last week. Near the close, the shares had climbed better than 11 percent.
Adtran (NASDAQ:ADTN) had risen almost 16 percent heading into the close after the company released better than expected adjusted fiscal Q1 financial results.
Health Management Associates (NYSE:HMA) lost more than 16 percent on the session after the company cut its full-year revenue outlook and said it expects both revenue and earnings will be below Wall Street expectations.
Titan Machinery (NASDAQ:TITN) fell around 14 percent on Wednesday after its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings fell 12 percent and missed consensus estimates.
Synergy Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SGYP) lost around 16 percent after the company announced a secondary offering of common shares.
Pacific Sunwear (NASDAQ:PSUN) had climbed almost 8 percent heading into the closing bell after the stock was upgraded to "Overweight" at Piper Jaffray.
Actions Semiconductor (NASDAQ:ACTS) climbed more than 10 percent on the session after the company lifted its first-quarter revenue outlook.
PriceSmart (NASDAQ:PSMT) were trading around 6 percent higher in the wake of the discount shopping warehouse-operator's fiscal second-quarter financial results which were released on Tuesday after the closing bell.
First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) was trading down around 7 percent near the close of equities. The stock soared on Tuesday in the wake of better than expected full-year guidance and remains sharply higher on the week.
Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) lost more than 8 percent on the day after a Chilean court suspended work on the company's Pascua Lama mine.
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