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Wall St rises after Powell fuels hopes for rate cuts this year

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Sinéad Carew and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

March 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street's three major indexes rose on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reinforced expectations that the U.S. central bank would reduce its benchmark interest rate this year.

Powell said on Wednesday he still expected the Fed to cut rates and that the U.S. economy appeared nowhere near a recession although he shied away from committing to a timetable for rate cuts as progress on inflation was not assured.

In prepared remarks ahead of his congressional testimony, Powell said inflation had "eased substantially" since hitting 40-year highs in 2022, but that policymakers still needed "greater confidence" in its decline before rate cuts.

"There were no surprises coming out of his testimony or any more hawkish overtones than the market had expected," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, pointing to Powell's reassurance that rates would not be hiked further and would likely be cut.

Also on Wednesday, data showed U.S. private payrolls increased slightly less than expected in February.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) showed job openings fell marginally in January, while hiring declined as labor market conditions continued to gradually ease.

"The number of job openings shriveled a bit, but are still quite healthy and indicative of a labor market that is still looking pretty stout," said Luschini. "It fits the Goldilocks narrative that's become consensus."

February's nonfarm payrolls report due on Friday will offer further clarity on the state of the labor market.

At 2:23 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 48.13 points, or 0.12%, to 38,633.32. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 25.80 points, or 0.51%, at 5,104.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXICadded 107.45 points, or 0.67%, at 16,047.04.

Wall Street indexes had lost more than 1% on Tuesday with weakness in megacap stocks and as investors anxiously awaited Powell's comments.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 industry sectors were in the green, led by rate-sensitive information technology stocks .SPLRCT, which were up 1%.

Chip companies outperformed the broader market after underperforming onTuesday, with the Philadelphia semiconductor index .SOX adding 2.7%.

Tesla TSLA.O extended losses for the third straight session, down 2%. Baird said the electric vehicle maker's first-quarter earnings were at risk, suggesting delivery estimates still need to go lower.

U.S.-listed shares of China's JD.comJD.O advanced 16.7% after the e-commerce group reported fourth-quarter revenue above estimates and enlarged its share repurchase program.

Shares of cryptocurrency-linked companies gained, with Coinbase Global COIN.O adding 9.8% and MicroStrategy MSTR.O rising 17.5% after tumbling in the previous session.

CrowdStrike HoldingsCRWD.O soared 11% after the company forecast annual results above Wall Street estimates, lifted by strong enterprise spending on cybersecurity to counter rising online threats. However, rival Palo Alto PANW.Ofell 4% after the report.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.63-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, where there were 442 new highs and 52 new lows.

On the Nasdaq 2,552 stocks rose and 1,661 fell as advancers outnumbered decliners by about a 1.54-to-1 ratio. The S&P 500 posted 52 new 52-week highs and four new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 208 new highs and 104 new lows.

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Ankika Biswas; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)

((sinead.carew@thomsonreuters.com; +13322191897))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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