Published On: Wed, Feb 21st, 2018

Wall St. climbs as tech stocks, Amazon gain

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were higher on Wednesday, with technology shares and Amazon driving gains ahead of minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting.

The Fed left rates unchanged at the January meeting, but investors will look for its opinion on inflation and interest rates, especially after strong economic data raised concerns of an overheating economy and triggered the recent selloff.

“While the minutes may not generate quite the same response, traders will likely monitor what they say very closely for signs that policy makers are now leaning more towards three-to-four rate hikes this year, rather than two or three,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at online forex broker Oanda.

Investors also took stock of the latest developments in the Broadcom-Qualcomm takeover saga.

Broadcom Corp (AVGO.O) lowered its takeover offer for chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM.O) to account for the latter’s increased offer for NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI.O).Qualcomm shares fell more than 1.5 percent.

LendingClub’s (LC.N) shares fell more than 4 percent after the online lender posted a wider quarterly loss.

By 9:36 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI had gained 0.33 percent to trade at 25,046.48. McDonald’s (MCD.N) rose 1.5 percent and was the biggest driver of the blue-chip index.

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The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC rose 0.56 percent to 7,274.62 and the S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.41 percent at 2,727.5.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.8 percent gain in consumer discretionary shares .SPLRCD. Amazon was up 1.3 percent and Netflix (NFLX.O) 1.7 percent.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT rose 0.5 percent. The top gainers were Apple (AAPL.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O). However, the energy index .SPNY fell 0.4 percent as oil prices eased due to a rebound in dollar. [O/R]

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yields US10YT=RR are still near four-year highs at 2.8859. [US/]

Wall Street’s fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility index .VIX, eased at 19.21, below Friday’s close of 19.46.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he still thinks just two interest rate hikes this year is “likely appropriate,” but signaled he is open to more if needed.

Harker said he expected the U.S. economy to grow 2.5 percent this year before slowing to 2 percent growth next year and to below 2 percent in 2020.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,778 to 748. On the Nasdaq, 1,685 issues rose and 656 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

Reuters: Business News