Wall St gains on financials boost, tax hopes

Wall Street Traders FBN

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday as gains in financial shares were powered by growing expectations for a December interest rate hike and on hopes President Donald Trump's administration may be making progress on a tax plan.

New orders for U.S.-made capital goods increased more than expected in August and shipments maintained their upward trend, pointing to underlying strength in the economy.

The data, coupled with comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday boosted anticipation the Federal Reserve would raise U.S. interest rates in December, lifting yields on U.S. Treasuries, which in turn pushed financials up 1.3 percent.

"With rates going up, that is why banks move. If rates go up and are sustainable they can start to make some money," said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.

Trump proposed the biggest tax overhaul in three decades but offered scant details about how to pay for the cuts without dramatically driving up federal deficits.

If passed, the plan would be Trump's first significant legislative win since taking office in January.

"For the first time since we have had Trump and the administration in office, it looks like there is incrementally more of a possibility of tax reform going through that would actually be meaningful," said Martin.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 1.92 percent and notched its best day since early March. Small-cap names are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of a tax cut.

Traders now see about a 78 percent chance of a December rate hike, compared with roughly 73 percent a week ago, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Bank of America rose 2.42 percent and Goldman Sachs gained 2.1 percent as the biggest boost to the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.39 points, or 0.25 percent, to 22,340.71, the S&P 500 gained 10.2 points, or 0.41 percent, to 2,507.04 and the Nasdaq Composite added 73.10 points, or 1.15 percent, to 6,453.26.

Interest-rate-sensitive and dividend-paying sectors declined. The consumer staples index fell 0.73 percent while utilities dropped 1.34 percent and real estate lost 0.84 percent.

Also serving to cap gains on the Dow and S&P were Nike shares, which declined 1.92 percent after the company posted its slowest quarterly sales growth in nearly seven years and said it expected a further drop in revenue from North America.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.29-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.71-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

About 6.55 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 5.91 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by James Dalgleish)