Indexes end higher in volatile trade as investors assess Powell speech

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks ended a volatile session higher on Friday as investors digested comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the U.S. central bank may need to raise interest rates further to ensure inflation is contained.

Powell also acknowledged that price pressures have eased in his much-anticipated morning speech at the Economic Policy Symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The major U.S. indexes, which started the day with solid gains, alternated between extending and paring those gains for much of the session.

Powell “is demonstrating that he is pleased with how far monetary policy has come and how inflation has been reduced. But he is still holding on tightly to this notion that they are watching it carefully and they still have work to do,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

All of the major S&P 500 sectors rose, with consumer discretionary, technology and energy among the top gainers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 247.48 points, or 0.73%, to 34,346.9, the S&P 500 gained 29.4 points, or 0.67%, to 4,405.71 and the Nasdaq Composite added 126.67 points, or 0.94%, to 13,590.65.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also ended higher for the week, with the Nasdaq rising about 2.3% and ending a three-week streak of losses. The market rose in the run up to Nvidia’s second-quarter results Wednesday.

The company, which makes chips designed for artificial intelligence tasks, gave another upbeat forecast with its report.

Following Powell’s comments Friday, expectations of a rate hike in November rose from a day earlier, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool. Most traders still expect the Fed to hold off on hiking in September.

In the retailers’ space, shares of Gap rose 7.2% after the company beat second-quarter profit estimates, while Nordstrom fell 7.7% after the department store chain left its forecasts unchanged.

Shares of Hostess Brands ended up 21.7%, jumping after Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that the maker of Twinkies snacks is exploring a sale. Shares of Marvell Technology fell 6.6% after the chipmaker posted a fall in second-quarter revenue. Hawaiian Electric Industries, which has come under scrutiny over its possible role in the Hawaii wildfires, dropped 18.5% after the county of Maui sued the power company.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.15 billion shares, compared with the 10.82 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.24-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 6 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 23 new highs and 202 new lows.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; additional reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Shristi Achar A and Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Deepa Babington)


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