Wall St gains from megacaps thrust; earnings, Fed comments on tap

April 17, 2024 – 7:10 AM PDT

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Wednesday, boosted by megacap growth stocks and as corporate results rolled in, while investors awaited commentary from Federal Reserve policymakers for clues on the economy’s health.


Megacap growth names such as Microsoft (MSFT.O), Alphabet <GOOGL.O> and Nvidia (NVDA.O) advanced between 0.4% and 0.8%.

The benchmark S&P 500 (.SPX) and the Nasdaq (.IXIC) closed lower in the previous session, impeded by climbing Treasury yields.

Further cushioning equities, government bond yields eased from the multi-month highs scaled in the previous session, with the 10-year note last at 4.6243%.

Fed Board Governor Michelle Bowman and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester are scheduled to speak later in the day.

Top U.S. central bank officials including Fed Chair Jerome Powell refrained from providing any guidance on when interest rates may be cut. On Tuesday, they said monetary policy needed to be restrictive for longer, dashing investors’ hopes for meaningful reductions in borrowing costs this year.

Money market participants see an around 43% chance the Fed could begin its easing cycle in July, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

First-quarter earnings season was in full swing, with United Airlines (UAL.O) gaining 9.4% after it forecast stronger-than-expected numbers in the current quarter.

Other airline stocks such as American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) added between 2.6% and 4.1%.

JB Hunt Transport Services (JBHT.O) shed 6.4% after the trucking firm missed Wall Street estimates for first-quarter results.

U.S. Bancorp (USB.N) dipped 3.2% after the lender cut its forecast for full-year interest income and reported a 22% fall in first-quarter profit.

Travelers (TRV.N) dropped 6.7% after the insurance giant missed Wall Street expectations for first-quarter core profit.

“Valuations are pretty high now, so there’s not a lot of leeway for bad news,” said David Russell, global head of market strategy at TradeStation.

“We’ve priced in a lot of good news and strong economic growth might not necessarily immediately be a positive – if it also means that we’re going to be looking at higher interest rates and what that means for valuations.”

At 9:41 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was up 146.74 points, or 0.39%, at 37,945.71, the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 20.02 points, or 0.40%, at 5,071.43, and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 71.46 points, or 0.45%, at 15,936.71.

All but one sector index traded higher, with real estate (.SPLRCR) down 0.5%, while consumer staples (.SPLRCS) and utilities (.SPLRCU) led advances.

Among other stocks, Mobileye (MBLY.O) advanced 5.1% after Reuters reported the Israeli automotive tech company was set to ship at least 46 million new assisted-driving chips.

Eli Lilly(LLY.N) gained 2% after its weight-loss drug helped cut the frequency of irregular breathing in patients with obstructive sleep apnea by as much as 63% on average, across two late-stage trials.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.41-to-1 ratio on the NYSE by a 2.38-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 47 new lows.

Reporting by Shashwat Chauhan and Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai

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