Wall St pares gains as rate-cut cheer ebbs after latest Fed comments

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
Wall St pares gains as rate-cut cheer ebbs after latest Fed comments
Credit: © Reuters.

By Shristi Achar A and Amruta Khandekar

(Reuters) - Wall Street's three main indexes were muted at mid-day after a strong start on Wednesday, following latest commentary from a Federal Reserve official on the possibility of another rate hike should the demand arise.

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said he was "skeptical" that inflation was on its way down to 2%, and wanted the option of another rate hike in case inflation gained steam.

U.S. stocks ended marginally higher on Tuesday, after some positive comments on the rate cut possibility. Fed Governor Christopher Waller, deemed a hawk, had hinted at lower interest rates in the months ahead if inflation continued to ease.

"It is certainly likely you'll see a little bit more division within the Fed because there are some conflicting (views)," said Brent Schutte, chief investment officer at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.

The Fed is likely to push back on market expectations for a rate cut, Schutte added.

Still, bets of rate cuts starting as early as March have gone up to 46.4% from 34.6% a day earlier, according to the CME Group's (NASDAQ: CME ) FedWatch tool.

Most megacap stocks reversed course, with Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META ), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) down between 1% and 2%.

Meanwhile, the latest GDP data showed the U.S. economy in the third quarter grew faster than initially thought, adding to the narrative of the Fed managing to avoid a recession.

Traders are now awaiting the release of the "Beige Book", a snapshot of the U.S. economy, at 2:00 p.m. ET, and the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index - Fed's preferred inflation gauge- due on Thursday, for further cues on how the economy is faring under restrictive monetary conditions.

Six of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors traded higher, led by rate-sensitive real estate stocks while the small-cap Russell 2000 index rose 0.8%.

At 11:48 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 36.64 points, or 0.10%, at 35,453.62, the S&P 500 was up 6.05 points, or 0.13%, at 4,560.94, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 11.49 points, or 0.08%, at 14,293.25.

Among single stocks, General Motors (NYSE: GM ) rose 9.3% as the automaker said it will buy back $10 billion in shares and boost its dividend by 33%. Shares of rival Ford (NYSE: F ) also rose 2.5%

CrowdStrike Holdings added 10.0% as the firm forecast fourth-quarter revenue above Street estimates.

NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP ) jumped 15.1% after the cloud-based data management platform raised its annual profit forecast.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 17, 2023.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.63-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.93-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 27 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 72 new highs and 57 new lows.



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