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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Wall St Regains Ground on Megacap Boost; Fed Speakers in Focus

Wall Street’s main indexes climbed on Tuesday following a choppy start to the session as falling U.S. Treasury yields supported megacap growth stocks, while investors awaited more commentary by Federal Reserve officials to gauge the interest rate path.

Treasury yields slipped on Tuesday ahead of large bond auctions this week, with the benchmark ten-year Treasury yield last at 4.5892%.

While investors have priced in an end to the Fed’s interest rate hiking cycle, concerns that the central bank will keep rates at their current level for longer have gripped markets following hawkish comments from some Fed officials.

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari doused hopes of early rate cuts, saying the central bank may have to do more to bring inflation back down to its 2% target.

Chicago Fed chief Austan Goolsbee acknowledged the downward trend in inflation but maintained price pressures are not yet over.

Megacap growth names such as Microsoft, Apple and rose between 1.1% and 2.2%, helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperform peers.

“Originally, higher rates placed concern on the multiples of these stocks (but) it’s shifting now to the idea that they may be a defensive place to be in this market. They have fairly bulletproof balance sheets,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Five of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors traded higher, with information technology, consumer discretionary and communication services leading gains.

Undermined by the retreat in Treasury yields, the dollar slipped back to the lowest since Sept 20.

The backdrop of an easier dollar and Treasury yields provides significant relief for emerging markets, with MSCI’s emerging market stock index hitting its highest since Sept 20 too.

Ahead of a full slate of Chinese economic updates later in the week, the offshore yuan also hit its highest in more than six weeks.

However, China recorded its first-ever quarterly deficit in foreign direct investment, according to balance of payments data out on Monday, underscoring Beijing’s challenge in wooing overseas firms amid “de-risking” moves by Western governments.

Energy stocks were the top decliners, down 2.4% as crude prices fell on mixed economic data from China. [O/R]

Market participants will parse commentary from New York Fed President John Williams later on Tuesday for more clues on the central bank’s interest rate path. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks will grab the spotlight on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 is set for its seventh straight day in the green, while the Nasdaq is on track to rise for the eighth day in a row.

Despite the recent gains, uncertainty about the timing of rate cuts and the prospects of a recession have cast a doubt on whether there could be a year-end rally.

“Investors are not yet ready to completely jump back in. We’re more likely to have a mixed market where you see sector rotation than we are to see a very significant year-end rally,” Meckler said.

At 11:46 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 93.99 points, or 0.28%, at 34,189.85, the S&P 500 was up 16.50 points, or 0.38%, at 4,382.48, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 131.18 points, or 0.97%, at 13,649.96.

Uber Technologies rose 3.5% as the ride-hailing firm projected fourth-quarter adjusted core profit above estimates.

Datadog surged 28.5% on raising its forecast for annual adjusted profit and revenue.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.15-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.12-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 12 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 87 new lows.

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