Wall St rises as investors await Fed's signals from Jackson Hole

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes rose in early trading on Thursday, supported by banks and megacap growth stocks, while focus was squarely on Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole symposium for clues on the central bank’s monetary policy outlook.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., August 17, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Wall Street snapped its three-day losing streak on Wednesday, boosted by strong gains in energy stocks but closed the session off intraday highs as markets remained cautious on how the Fed plans to curb inflation amid rising concerns around slowing global growth.

“People are coming back to the market gradually with the assumption that a lot of the bad news has already been priced in,” said Brian Vendig, president of MJP Wealth Advisors.

Chair Jerome Powell’s speech due on Friday will be scrutinized for any indication that an economic slowdown might alter the Fed’s strategy and if the central bank can achieve a “soft landing” for the economy.

“Investors are going to be really keen to hear whether or not the Fed is going to be blind to increasing interest rates and fighting inflation at the cost of economic growth,” Vendig added.

Data earlier in the day showed the U.S. economy contracted at a moderate pace than initially thought in the second quarter as consumer spending blunted some of the drag from a slower pace of inventory accumulation, dispelling fears that a recession was underway.

Traders are seeing a slightly greater likelihood of a third 75 basis-point hike from the Fed at its policy meeting next month, compared to a smaller 50 basis-point rate hike. [FEDWATCH]

Kansas City Fed President Esther George said it was too soon to predict how much the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates next month, with key reports on inflation and the labor market still to come.

Investors will also be looking for details on the Fed’s plans to reduce its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet, a process that started in June.

Most high-growth and technology stocks rose in early trading, with Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc adding more than 1% each.

Electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc slipped 0.3% after its 3-for-1 stock split came into effect.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors advanced on Thursday, with material stocks leading gains.

Energy stocks rose for a third straight session, as crude prices extended their rally on mounting supply tightness concerns. [O/R]

At 9:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 54.40 points, or 0.16%, at 33,023.63, the S&P 500 was up 22.31 points, or 0.54%, at 4,163.08, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 78.72 points, or 0.63%, at 12,510.24.

Big banks advanced 1% in early trading, with Citigroup and Morgan Stanley leading gains.

Weighing on the blue-chip Dow, Salesforce Inc slid 7.4% as it cut its annual revenue and profit forecasts over “measured” spending from clients and a hit from a stronger dollar.

Helped by better-than-feared results from corporate America, the S&P 500 has recovered about 13% from its bear market lows in mid-June.

The benchmark index is set to end the year a little above its current level, according to strategists recently polled by Reuters.

Graphics chip designer Nvidia Corp slipped 0.8% after it forecast a sharp drop in revenue for the current quarter on the back of a weaker gaming industry.

Semiconductor stocks, however, rose 1.5%.

The White House said President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on implementation of the $52.7 billion semiconductor chips manufacturing subsidy and research law.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.08-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.06-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 29 new lows.

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