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Wall Street rises as Fed signals slowdown in rate hikes

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Wall Street’s main indexes ended Wednesday with solid gains after the Federal Reserve’s November meeting minutes showed interest rate hikes may slow soon.

A “substantial majority” of policymakers agreed it would “likely soon be appropriate” to slow the pace of interest rate hikes, the minutes showed.

“What equity markets needed to see for the recent strength to continue was what we got from the minutes,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

Since the Fed’s last meeting on Nov. 1-2, investors have been more optimistic that price pressure has started to ease, meaning smaller rate hikes could curtail inflation.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 24.03 points, or 0.61%, to end at 4,027.46 points, while the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) gained 112.77 points, or 1.01%, to 11,287.18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 97.01 points, or 0.30%, to 34,200.35.

Trading volume was thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, with the U.S. stock market open for a half-session on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a mixed bag of economic data led to a drop in yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, helping drive stocks up.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week and U.S. business activity contracted for a fifth straight month in November. Consumer sentiment ticked higher and home sales rose above expectations.

“What I think you’re seeing is renewed investor enthusiasm fueled by those who see that beautiful light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel. And there has been so much money on the sidelines that is rushing back into the markets and waiting to get back into the action,” said portfolio manager Moez Kassam of Anson Funds.

Heavyweight stocks, including Inc (AMZN.O) and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O), rose.

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) jumped with Citigroup upgrading the electric-vehicle maker’s stock to “neutral” from a “sell” rating.

Deere & Co (DE.N) soared after the farm equipment maker reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit.

Nordstrom Inc fell as the fashion retailer cut its profit forecast amid steep markdowns to attract inflation-wary customers.

(This story has been refiled to fix a typographical error in the headline.)

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