Wall St. drops on surprise Mexico tariff threat

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S. May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks dropped on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its first monthly drop of the year after President Donald Trump’s surprise threat of tariffs on Mexico fueled fears increasing trade wars could lead to a recession.

Washington will impose a 5% tariff from June 10, which would then rise steadily to 25% until illegal immigration across the southern border was stopped, Trump tweeted late on Thursday.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador responded by urging his U.S. counterpart to back down.

“Mexico would probably like to work something out but I don’t think they even know what to work out,” said Tim Ghriskey, Chief Investment Strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

“It’s impossible to handicap Trump because something can come out of left field like this and something can go away just as quickly.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 315.97 points, or 1.26%, to 24,853.91, the S&P 500 lost 33.82 points, or 1.21%, to 2,755.04 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 97.59 points, or 1.29%, to 7,470.12.

Wall Street’s main indexes are down more than 6% in May, as investors have become increasingly worried about deteriorating trade talks between the U.S. and China trade war and have sought safety in government bonds. Technology and energy have been among the hardest hit sectors since May 3 as Trump ramped up tariff threats with Beijing.

U.S. Treasury yields fell to new multi-month lows. Benchmark 10-year yields dropped as low as 2.145 percent, the lowest since September 2017.

The yield curve, as measured in the gap between three-month and 10-year bond yields, remained deeply inverted. An inversion in the yield curve is seen by some as an indicator that a recession is likely in one to two years.

Of the 11 major S&P sectors, only defensive plays utilities and real estate were the two on the plus side while eight were showing drops of more than 1%.

U.S. carmakers and manufacturers were among the worst hit. General Motors Co dropped 4.16% and Ford Motor Co 2.67%, pushing the consumer discretionary sector 1.43% lower.

Adding to the downbeat mood was Beijing’s warning on Friday that it would unveil an unprecedented hit-list of “unreliable” foreign firms, as a slate of retaliatory tariffs on imported U.S. goods was set to kick in at midnight. Tariff-sensitive industrials declined 1.36%.

Data showed U.S. consumer prices increased by the most in 15 months in April, but a cooling in spending pointed to a slowdown in economic growth that could keep inflation pressures moderate.

The report from the Commerce Department supported the Federal Reserve’s contention that recent low inflation readings were transitory.

Among other stocks, Gap Inc tumbled 10.75%, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the apparel retailer cut its 2019 profit forecast.

Constellation Brands, which has substantial brewery operations in Mexico, slid 6.50%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.20-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 4 new 52-week highs and 52 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 12 new highs and 210 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Wall Street gains as U.S.-China trade talks advance

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks gained on Friday, led by a bounce in shares of financials, as investors were optimistic about the ongoing trade talks to resolve a bruising tariff dispute between the United States and China.

Talks between the world’s largest economies will continue next week in Washington, with both sides saying this week’s negotiations in Beijing made good progress.

“Trade talks have been completed in Beijing and the good news is that they are planning on having another round of negotiations in Washington next week,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“The market is predicated on a positive outcome from the trade negotiations.”

Hopes of a trade deal ahead of a March 1 deadline has helped the trade-sensitive industrial sector gain more than 16 percent so far this year, making it the best performing S&P sector.

The sector rose 0.97 percent boosted by bellwethers Boeing Co and Caterpillar Inc.

Leading the gains among the 11 major S&P sectors trading higher were financial companies up 1.66 percent, after a more than 1 percent fall in the prior session.

The sector was hit by a fall in U.S. treasury yields on Thursday after bleak retail sales data in December suggested a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018.

Another concern for markets was a threat by President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency in an attempt to fund his U.S.-Mexico border wall without congressional approval.

Still, he agreed to sign the bill that lacked money for his wall, but prevents another damaging government shutdown.

At 9:53 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 275.89 points, or 1.08 percent, at 25,715.28, the S&P 500 was up 22.19 points, or 0.81 percent, at 2,767.92 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.83 points, or 0.29 percent, at 7,448.79.

PepsiCo Inc shares rose 2.6 percent after the soda maker forecast an increase in revenue growth. Nvidia Corp rose 2.0 percent and helped push the technology sector 0.29 percent higher, after the chipmaker forecast sales for its current fiscal year above expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.76-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.69-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 38 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 43 new highs and 10 new lows.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

U.S. stocks attempt rebound

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were attempting a modest rebound on Wednesday, boosted by technology shares and an Amazon-led jump in retailers, following four sessions of steep losses that pushed the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials near bear market territory.

After a strong start, the S&P and Dow swung between gains and losses. At its session low, the S&P hit a fresh 20-month low and came within two points of entering bear market territory, measured by a drop of more than 20 percent from a closing high.

The gains were led by technology stocks, which rose 1.49 percent. Their 9.2 percent slump in the past four sessions was the steepest among the 11 major S&P sectors, while the S&P 500 tumbled 7.7 percent.

Amazon.com Inc jumped 4.02 percent after reporting a “record-breaking” season. The stock was giving the biggest boost to the S&P and Nasdaq and led the consumer discretionary index up 1.49 percent.

But investors anxieties were far from gone. President Donald Trump renewed his attack on the Federal Reserve on Christmas, blaming it for the market slump.

Trump also said the U.S. government shutdown, now in its fifth day, would last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is met.

A little over 2,100 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq hit 52-week lows. That compares with at least 2,600 stocks breaching new lows in the past three sessions.

“The market doesn’t look so healthy. The concerns are government shutdown, the economy, the President – what time is he going to tweet out about Federal Reserve,” said Larry Benedict, founder of the Opportunistic Trader in Boca Raton, Florida.

“We’re seeing the same thing recently and it’s not really good. It opens up every day and it’s met by selling and it ends nearer the low or on the low than the high. For the market to make a bottom, you need a bit of capitulation or panic bottom.”

The S&P was up 24.41 points, or 1.04 percent, at 2,375.51, at 11:37 a.m. ET, a day after the Christmas holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 196.31 points, or 0.90 percent, at 21,988.51 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 98.42 points, or 1.59 percent, at 6,291.34.

Eight of the 11 S&P sectors were higher, with the defensive utilities. SPLRCU real estat and consumer staples flat to lower.

Energy stocks rose 1.8 percent as crude oil prices rebounded.

Retailers jumped 3.14 percent, led by Amazon after a Mastercard report showed U.S. holiday sales were the strongest in six years.

The heavy-weight FAANG group, Facebook Inc, Amazon, Apple Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc, rose between 1 percent and 4 percent.

The S&P ended Monday 19.8 percent below its all-time closing high, with roughly three-fourths of its stocks already in a bear market.

The Dow finished Monday 18.9 percent lower than its closing high. The Nasdaq is already in bear market, along with the Dow Jones Transport Average and small-cap Russell 2000 index.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.70-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.89-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and 194 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded five new highs and 455 new lows.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

Fed raises interest rates, signals more hikes ahead

A screen displays the headlines that the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates as a trader works at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Ann Saphir and Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After weeks of market volatility and calls by President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates, the U.S. central bank instead did it again, and stuck by a plan to keep withdrawing support from an economy it views as strong.

U.S. stocks and bond yields fell hard. With the Fed signaling “some further gradual” rate hikes and no break from cutting its massive bond portfolio, traders fretted that policymakers could choke off economic growth.

“Maybe they have already committed their policy error,” said Fritz Folts, chief investment strategist at 3Edge Asset Management. “We would be in the camp that they have already raised rates too much.”

Interest rate futures show traders are currently betting the Fed won’t raise rates at all next year.

Wednesday’s rate increase, the fourth of the year, pushed the central bank’s key overnight lending rate to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent.

In a news conference after the release of the policy statement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank would continue trimming its balance sheet by $50 billion each month, and left open the possibility that continued strong data could force it to raise rates to the point where they start to brake the economy’s momentum.

Powell did bow to what he called recent “softening” in global growth, tighter financial conditions, and expectations the U.S. economy will slow next year, and said that with inflation expected to remain a touch below the Fed’s 2 percent target next year, policymakers can be “patient.”

Fresh economic forecasts showed officials at the median now see only two more rate hikes next year compared to the three projected in September.

But another message was clear in the statement issued after the Fed’s last policy meeting of the year as well as in Powell’s comments: The U.S. economy continues to perform well and no longer needs the Fed’s support either through lower-than-normal interest rates or by maintaining of a massive balance sheet.

“Policy does not need to be accommodative,” he said.

In its statement, the Fed said risks to the economy were “roughly balanced” but that it would “continue to monitor global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the economic outlook.”

The Fed also made a widely expected technical adjustment, raising the rate it pays on banks’ excess reserves by just 20 basis points to give it better control over the policy rate and keep it within the targeted range.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell arrives at his news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell arrives at his news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, U.S., December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

CHOPPY WATERS

The decision to raise borrowing costs again is likely to anger Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the central bank’s tightening this year as damaging to the economy.

The Fed has been raising rates to reduce the boost that monetary policy gives to the economy, which is growing faster than what central bank policymakers view as a sustainable rate.

There are worries, however, that the economy could enter choppy waters next year as the fiscal boost from the Trump administration’s spending and $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades and the global economy slows.

“I think that markets were looking for more in terms of the pause,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group in Richmond, Virginia.

“It’s not as dovish as expected, but I do believe the Fed will ultimately back off even further as we move into the new year.”

The benchmark S&P 500 index <.SPX> tumbled to a 15-month low, extending a streak of volatility that has dogged the market since late September. The index is down nearly 15 percent from its record high.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields fell as low as 2.75 percent, the lowest since April 4.

ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS

Fed policymakers’ median forecast puts the federal funds rate at 3.1 percent at the end of 2020 and 2021, according to the projections.

That would leave borrowing costs just above policymakers’ newly downgraded median view of a 2.8 percent neutral rate that neither brakes nor boosts a healthy economy, but still within the 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent range of Fed estimates for that rate.

Powell parried three questions about whether the Fed intended to restrict the economy with its rate policy, but gave little away.

“There would be circumstances in which it would be appropriate for us to go past neutral, and there would be circumstances in which it would be wholly inappropriate to do so.”

Gross domestic product is forecast to grow 2.3 percent next year and 2.0 percent in 2020, slightly weaker than the Fed previously anticipated. The unemployment rate, currently at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, is expected to fall to 3.5 percent next year and rise slightly in 2020 and 2021.

Inflation, which hit the central bank’s 2 percent target this year, is expected to be 1.9 percent next year, a bit lower than the 2.0 percent forecast three months ago.

There were no dissents in the Fed’s policy decision.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir and Howard Schneider; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Paul Simao and Dan Burns)

Fed expected to increase rates, may signal fewer hikes ahead

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as Jerome Powell, his nominee to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

By Ann Saphir and Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates on Wednesday, but may cut the number of hikes it anticipates next year and signal an earlier end to its monetary tightening in the face of financial market volatility and rising recession fears.

The central bank is due to announce its decision at 2 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) after its final two-day policy meeting of the year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to hold a press conference half an hour later.

Investors widely expect the Fed will lift borrowing costs by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of between 2.25 percent and 2.50 percent. It would be the fourth rate hike of the year and the ninth since the central bank began its current tightening cycle in December 2015.

A rate hike on Wednesday could draw the ire of the White House. President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the Fed for raising rates this year, saying it was undercutting his efforts to boost the economy. On Tuesday, Trump warned Fed policymakers not to “make yet another mistake.”

The Fed’s tightening is designed to reduce the monetary policy boost to a U.S. economy that is now growing much faster than central bank policymakers think it can sustain.

With the price of oil tumbling, economic growth in Europe and China slipping, and the fiscal stimulus from the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package expected to fade, Fed policymakers appear ready to back away from their prior view that the economy could weather three more rate hikes next year.

Fresh Fed economic forecasts to be released along with the policy statement may suggest that two rate hikes is more likely, economists say. Traders of interest rate futures do not even think the Fed will manage one hike.

“You are at an inflection point,” said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust. “You are most likely seeing growth slowing and you don’t know how much growth and what kind of growth is left over after the fiscal stimulus wears off. And that’s why they don’t know if they need zero, one, or more rate hikes.”

U.S. stocks were broadly higher Wednesday morning on investor optimism the Fed would signal it was near the end of its tightening cycle. The S&P 500 index & SPX has tumbled more than 12 percent since late September and, barring a turnaround, is on pace for its poorest December performance since 1931.

With borrowing costs after Wednesday’s expected rate hike close to, if not in, the broad range that Fed officials have identified as “neutral” for a healthy economy, policymakers are also likely to emphasize that future rate-setting decisions will hinge on new economic data.

That may be particularly important as data pulls the central bank in different directions, with a strong labor market and robust output suggesting the need for higher rates, and a weaker global economy and U.S. bond yields suggesting not.

The divergence between the U.S. economy and the rest of the world was cast into stark relief after FedEx Corp slashed its profit outlook on Tuesday. FedEx, seen as a bellwether for global trade, flagged a litany of issues including a Brexit-led slowdown in the United Kingdom, a contraction in the German economy and slowing China demand due to an ongoing trade spat with the United States.

FORWARD GUIDANCE

Economists say the Fed will probably modify or remove from its policy statement a reference to the likelihood that “further gradual increases” in its key overnight lending rate will be needed.

Doing so would mark one more step in the Fed’s march away from its reliance on forward guidance to shape market expectations in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession.

It could also help the central bank guard against criticism, whether from Trump or others, by allowing Powell to point to the economic realities on the ground as forcing his hand on any future rate hikes.

“They want to get to the place where they can say all decisions are data-dependent,” said Vincent Reinhart, chief economist at Standish Mellon Asset Management.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

U.S. inflation pressures rise in July; Fed on track to lift rates

FILE PHOTO: A woman shops with her daughter at a Walmart Supercenter in Rogers, Arkansas, U.S., June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Phot

By Lindsay Dunsmuir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer prices rose in July and the underlying trend continued to strengthen, pointing to a steady increase in inflation pressures that keeps the Federal Reserve on track to gradually raise interest rates.

The Labor Department said on Friday its Consumer Price Index advanced 0.2 percent, the bulk of which was due to a rise in the cost of shelter, driven by higher rents. The CPI rose 0.1 percent in June.

In the 12 months through July, the CPI increased 2.9 percent, matching the increase in June.

Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI rose 0.2 percent, the same gain as in May and June. The annual increase in the so-called core CPI was 2.4 percent, the largest rise since September 2008, from 2.3 percent in June.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast both the CPI and core CPI rising 0.2 percent in July.

U.S. Treasury yields held near three-week lows and U.S. stocks fell on anxiety about Turkey’s financial woes and its deepening rift with the United States. The U.S. dollar was trading higher against a basket of currencies.

“As the July CPI figures make clear, underlying price pressures are still mounting,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in New York.

The Fed more closely tracks a different inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, which increased 1.9 percent in June.

That gauge hit the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target in March for the first time in more than six years and Fed policymakers have said they will not be unduly concerned if it overshoots its target in the coming months.

The U.S. central bank has raised rates twice this year, in March and June, and financial markets overwhelmingly expect a hike at the next policy meeting in September.

The Fed currently forecasts a total of four rate rises in 2018, with investors expecting a final nudge upwards of the year in the benchmark overnight lending rate in December.

Inflation pressures are seen continuing to build amid low unemployment and increasing difficulty reported by employers in filling positions. Rising raw material costs are also expected to push up inflation as manufacturers pay more, in part because of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on lumber, aluminum and steel imports.

Last month, gasoline prices fell 0.6 percent after increasing 0.5 percent in June. Food prices edged up 0.1 percent after rising 0.2 percent in June.

Owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would pay to rent or receive from renting a home, advanced 0.3 percent last month after increasing by the same margin in June. Overall, the so-called shelter index rose 3.5 percent in the 12 months through July.

Healthcare costs fell 0.2 percent after gaining 0.4 percent in June. Prices for new motor vehicles rose 0.3 percent in July following a 0.4 percent increase in the prior month. Apparel prices were down 0.3 percent after a 0.9 percent drop in June.

(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Paul Simao)

U.S. yield curve flattens, world stocks dip; focus on possible December hike

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 8, 2017.

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury yield curve flattened to a two-and-a half month low and key world stock markets fell on Thursday, as investors assessed indications from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it may raise interest rates a third time this year.

The Fed, as expected, also laid out plans to begin the unwinding of a decade of aggressive monetary stimulus, but took a more hawkish than expected stance at this week’s meeting.

“The meeting was definitely more hawkish than what the market was anticipating,” said Mary Ann Hurley, vice president in fixed income trading at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.

“We were definitely not pricing in another rate hike for this year,” Hurley said.

MSCI’s broad index of global stock markets was down 0.3 percent at 486.72.

The U.S. dollar earlier rose to a two-month high against the yen, while an index that measures the dollar’s strength against a basket of currencies dipped.

A Reuters poll late Wednesday of primary dealers, the banks authorized to transact directly with the Fed, showed that the Fed will resume rate hikes in December and raise borrowing costs three more times in 2018.

In Asia, the Bank of Japan kept its monetary spigots open at full.

The Treasury yield curve between five-year notes and 30-year bonds flattened to 92 basis points on Thursday, the lowest level since July 6. Intermediate-dated debt is more sensitive than longer-dated bonds to interest rate increases.

U.S. stocks pulled back from their all-time highs, though bank stocks cheered the prospect of higher interest rates which should help their profits. The S&P bank index was up 0.4 percent, adding to Wednesday’s gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 17.83 points, or 0.08 percent, to 22,394.76, the S&;P 500 lost 3.67 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,504.57 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.08 points, or 0.36 percent, to 6,432.96.

Emerging markets shares were lower, with an index of emerging markets down 0.3 percent.

S&P Global became the second major rating agency this year to cut China’s credit score, citing worries about the country’s rising debt levels and the risks that posed for financial stability in the world’s second largest economy.FED,

China’s markets were already closed by the time it came but it kept the pressure on emerging markets stocks.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.69 percent lower.

Since the start of 2014, Reuters analysis shows that the big three rating agencies – S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch – have racked up more than 155 emerging market downgrades between them, which averages out a roughly one a week.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.11 percent versus the greenback at 112.34 per dollar. The dollar index fell 0.29 percent.

Gold fell to its lowest in almost four weeks as investors continued to assess the Fed statement. Spot gold dropped 0.7 percent to $1,291.91 an ounce.

Oil prices were down slightly before a meeting of oil producers that could extend production limits.

U.S. crude fell 0.22 percent to $50.58 per barrel and Brent was last at $55.91, down 0.04 percent on the day.

 

(Additional reporting by Karen Brettell in New York, Marc Jones in London and Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

 

U.S. stocks open higher after strong private jobs data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan

By Sweta Singh

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were higher on Thursday after better-than-expected private sector hiring showed that the labor market continues to strengthen, further boosting chances of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve later this month.

The ADP private sector employment report showed that 253,000 jobs were added in May, well above the 185,000 jobs estimated by economists polled by Reuters.

The report by payrolls processor ADP acts as a precursor to the much-awaited nonfarm payrolls data, due on Friday, that includes hiring in both the public and private sectors.

“I think the Fed has already made up its mind. Unless we have a real weak employment data tomorrow I think it’s a go-ahead for the Fed to raise rates in June,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Wednesday he sees a total of three interest rate increases for this year as his baseline scenario, but views four hikes as also being appropriate if the U.S. economy gets an unexpected boost.

Forecasts from Fed officials suggest that a median of two more hikes are planned before the end of the year.

Traders priced in an 89 percent chance of a rate hike in the upcoming Fed meeting on June 14, according to Thomson Reuters data.

At 9:52 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.5 points, or 0.1 percent, at 21,030.15, the S&P 500 was up 6.16 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,417.96 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 26.51 points, or 0.43 percent, at 6,225.03.    Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the health and technology sectors leading the gainers.

The Institute for Supply Management is likely to report that its national manufacturing index slipped to 54.5 in May from 54.8 in April. The data is expected at 10:00 ET.

“We have a multitude of macro news coming out today and that will set the tone for the market’s direction … I think we are looking at another trying session,” Cardillo said.

Deere’s shares were up 1.9 percent at $124.74 after the farm and construction major said it would buy privately held German road construction company Wirtgen Group for $5.2 billion, including debt.

Goodyear Tire’s shares were up 5.7 percent at $34.03 after Morgan Stanley raised its rating to “overweight” from “underweight”.

Box Inc was up 3.9 percent at $19.40 after the cloud storage firm’s quarterly earnings edged ahead of Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,931 to 657. On the Nasdaq, 1,707 issues rose and 624 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 28 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 82 new highs and 70 new lows.

(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)

Wall St. opens higher as banks, discretionary stocks rise

A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 28, 201

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, extending gains into the second trading day of the new year, helped by advances in consumer discretionary and bank stocks.

Investors are awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s Dec. 13-14 meeting in which it raised interest rates. The minutes are due to be released at 2:00 p.m. ET.

The central bank had cited strength in the labor market and a slight uptick in inflation among reasons for its move. Investors will pore over the minutes to assess policymakers’ view on the economy and the incoming administration.

With just over two weeks left before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, investors are waiting for the finer details of his proposed policies such as tax cuts and higher fiscal spending.

The S&P 500 financial sector rose 0.5 percent and provided the biggest boost to the broader index. Big U.S. banks are set on getting Congress loosen some banking regulations, seeing an opportunity in the incoming Republican-led administration.

The consumer discretionary index got a lift from Comcast, which rose 1 percent after Macquarie raised its price target to $76.

At 9:45 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 37.61 points, or 0.19 percent, at 19,919.37, the S&P 500 was up 7.36 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,265.19 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.93 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,451.02.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by gains in healthcare and utilities.

Shares of General Motors and Ford were up more than 3 percent after the automakers posted strong U.S. sales for December.

Agile Therapeutics lost 58 percent of its value in heavy trading and is set to open at a record low after the company provided an update on its contraceptive patch trial.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,196 to 528. On the Nasdaq, 1,771 issues rose and 614 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 10 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and three new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Rising gasoline, rents push U.S. inflation higher in September

A Shell gas station is shown in Encinitas, California

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest gain in five months in September as the cost of gasoline and rents surged, pointing to a steady pickup of inflation that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates in December.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday its Consumer Price Index increased 0.3 percent last month after rising 0.2 percent in August. In the 12 months through September, the CPI accelerated 1.5 percent, the biggest year-on-year increase since October 2014. The CPI rose 1.1 percent in the year to August.

“The upward creep of prices weakens any argument against a rate increase in December,” said Anthony Karydakis, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. “The economy is close to full employment and prices are starting to respond to that reality.”

Last month’s increase in the CPI was in line with economists’ expectations. However, underlying inflation moderated amid a slowdown in the pace of increases in healthcare costs after recent robust gains.

The so-called core CPI, which strips out food and energy costs, gained 0.1 percent last month after climbing 0.3 percent in August. That slowed the year-on-year increase in the core CPI to 2.2 percent following a 2.3 percent rise in August.

But with rents, which account for a larger share of the core CPI, recording their biggest increase in nearly 10 years, and wages pushing higher, economists cautioned against putting too much emphasis on last month’s weak reading.

The U.S. central bank has a 2 percent inflation target and tracks an inflation measure which is at 1.7 percent. Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer said on Monday that the U.S. central bank was “very close” to its inflation and employment targets.

“As inflation approaches 2 percent, the argument that the economy has more room to run becomes harder to make and we believe the Fed remains on track for a rate hike in December,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.

The Fed lifted its short-term interest rate last December and has held it steady since because of persistently low inflation.

The dollar was little changed against a basket of currencies, while prices for longer-dated U.S. Treasuries rose slightly. U.S. stocks rallied, cheered by better-than-expected quarterly earnings from UnitedHealth, Netflix and Goldman Sachs.

FIRMING DEMAND

While the jump in overall inflation was also the result of last year’s lower energy prices dropping out of the calculation, it suggested firming domestic demand.

A 5.8 percent jump in gasoline prices accounted for more than half of the increase in the CPI last month. Americans also paid more for electricity, with prices posting their biggest gain since December 2014.

The price increases are bad news for retirees, with social security recipients only due to get a 0.3 percent cost of living adjustment increase next year. Households, however, got some relief from food prices in September, which were unchanged for a third straight month. The cost of food consumed at home declined for a fifth straight month.

Within the core CPI basket, housing costs rose further in September. Owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence increased 0.4 percent, the largest gain since October 2006, after rising 0.3 percent in August. Rents tend to be sticky and should keep core inflation supported.

Medical care costs rose 0.2 percent last month, the smallest increase since March, after surging 1.0 percent in August. The cost of hospital services was unchanged, while prices for prescription medicine rose 0.8 percent.

The government revised prices for prescription drugs from May through August this year as incorrect data had been used to calculate price changes. Prescription medicine accounts for about 1.4 percent of the CPI basket.

Consumers also paid more for grooming, motor vehicle insurance, tobacco and airline fares. However, prices for communication recorded their largest decline in two years, while heavy discounting by retailers pushed apparel prices down 0.7 percent. Prices for motor vehicles also fell.

“Inflation is moving up, showing this is not an economy that is undergoing serious demand-based weakness,” said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)