S&P 500, Nasdaq hit record closing highs, lifted by China stimulus hopes
By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to record closing highs on Wednesday as optimism that China would take more measures to prop up its economy eased concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. Stocks held gains following the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting, which showed policymakers were cautiously optimistic about their ability to hold interest rates steady this year while acknowledging new risks caused by the virus outbreak
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose to record closing highs on Wednesday as optimism that China would take more measures to prop up its economy eased concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic.
Stocks held gains following the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy meeting, which showed policymakers were cautiously optimistic about their ability to hold interest rates steady this year while acknowledging new risks caused by the virus outbreak.
The number of new coronavirus cases dropped for a second straight day in China.
China is widely expected to cut its benchmark lending interest rate on Thursday, which would add to measures aimed at limiting the impact from business shutdowns and travel curbs on the world's second-largest economy.
"It sounds as though investors are breathing a sigh of relief that they believe the worst of the coronavirus is behind us," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago.
"Investors are feeling emboldened because central banks have got their back," he added.
The S&P 500 technology sector <.SPLRCT> also rose, ending up 1.1%. Among sectors, it was the second-biggest percentage gainer after energy <.SPNY>, which rose 1.3%.
Oil prices overall gained 2% on the back of slowing coronavirus cases.
"There seemed to be a number of high-profile companies that were talking about coronavirus and the potential for it to impact earnings. Today, investors are perhaps looking at markets with more thoughtfulness, recognizing (there's) policy support and some good news coming from the infection rates," said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 115.84 points, or 0.4%, to 29,348.03, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 15.86 points, or 0.47%, to 3,386.15 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 84.44 points, or 0.87%, to 9,817.18.
Also helping the technology sector was a 6.1% gain in chipmaker Nvidia Corp
Among other stocks, Garmin Ltd
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.31-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.54-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 77 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 169 new highs and 57 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.22 billion shares, compared to the 7.57 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr, Leslie Adler and Tom Brown)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.