S&P 500 rises briefly after Powell remarks; U.S. bond yields fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 rose briefly Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell called for a more comprehensive approach to end the jobs crisis, while Treasury yields tumbled as U.S. data showed inflation stayed benign in January.

FILE PHOTO: A trader at the New York Stock Exchange works as markets continue to react to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) inside of the NYSE in New York, U.S., March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe was slightly higher and on track for an eighth day of gains.

Bets on more fiscal aid have powered Wall Street’s main indexes to a series of all-time peaks recently, with investors moving into sectors such as energy, banks and industrials that are poised to benefit from a recovering economy.

In his remarks to the Economic Club of New York, Powell made a broad call for a “society-wide commitment” to get Americans back to work.

“Basically Powell is saying he’s not changing his tune, and that simply means between the combination of an overly friendly Fed and stimulus, that’s just adding more enthusiasm to the marketplace,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Executives from Robinhood, Melvin Capital and Citadel Securities are expected to testify before a U.S. House of Representatives panel at a Feb. 18 hearing exploring trading turmoil in GameStop Corp and other stocks, according to a Reuters report citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Interest from retail investors appeared to lift cannabis stocks broadly higher on Wednesday, signaling that the recent trading frenzy behind Reddit favorites such as GameStop is shifting to other companies. Shares of Tilray jumped 36%.

Earnings contributed to earlier optimism in equities markets, with French bank Societe Generale among those beating fourth-quarter profit expectations.

Twitter Inc shares were up 12%, a day after the company beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly sales and profit and followed its social media peers to forecast a strong start to 2021 as ad spending rebounds from a rock bottom.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 17.61 points, or 0.06%, to 31,393.44, the S&P 500 lost 7.15 points, or 0.18%, to 3,904.08 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 56.96 points, or 0.41%, to 13,950.74.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.23% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.13%.

Bitcoin, meanwhile, consolidated recent gains on Wednesday, trading 3.2% lower at $45,006. It hit a new high of $48,216 on Tuesday following Tesla’s disclosure of a $1.5 billion investment in the virtual currency.

The dollar was weighed down by U.S. inflation data, while benchmark U.S. Treasury yields also tumbled.

The U.S. data showed that inflation stayed benign in January, disappointing investors betting that price pressures would increase more. The Labor Department said its consumer price index increased 0.3% last month after climbing a revised 0.2% in December.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 8/32 in price to yield 1.1293%, from 1.157% late on Tuesday.

The dollar index fell 0.032%, with the euro up 0.02% to $1.2119.

Oil rose, extending its rally for a ninth day, its longest winning streak in two years, supported by producer supply cuts and hopes vaccine rollouts will drive a recovery in demand.

Brent crude rose 38 cents to settle at $61.47 a barrel, while U.S. crude climbed 32 cents to settle at $58.68.

Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,840.91 an ounce.

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