By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Wall Street's record-setting run entered its fifth day on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump repeated his promise of tax cuts and on upbeat economic data that increased the odds of a rate hike and lifted bank stocks.Trump, in a meeting with top executives at U.S. retail companies, said he would lower taxes substantially and simplify the tax code - echoing a vow he made last Thursday that renewed optimism about the economy and revived the "Trump trade".His comments boosted already upbeat sentiment after a spate of robust economic data – including bigger-than-expected gains in retail sales and consumer prices in January – that reinforced the strength of the economy.Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in a testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, stood by the stance she took on Tuesday that the central bank was on track to raise interest rates at an upcoming policy meeting."She (Yellen) has made it clear that she wants to raise rates," said Neil Massa, senior equity trader at Manulife Asset Management in Boston."Before she spoke yesterday, the March meeting wasn't in play, but now that is definitely on the table and I think the numbers today bode well for her to do that."
After the economic data, traders raised the odds of a rate hike in March to 26.6 percent from 13.3 percent before the data was released, according to Thomson Reuters data.Financial stocks .SPSY, which benefit in a higher rate environment, again led the gainers among the 11 major S&P sectors, with a 0.63 percent gain. The rate-sensitive utilities .SPLRCU and real estate .SPLRCR sectors fell the most.At 11:07 a.m. ET (1808 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 79.89 points, or 0.39 percent, at 20,584.3.
The S&P 500 .SPX was up 5.07 points, or 0.21 percent, at percent, at 2,342.65 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 11.65 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,794.23.Procter & Gamble (PG.N) jumped 3.3 percent to $90.79 and gave the biggest boost to the Dow and the S&P after activist investor Trian Fund disclosed a stake in the consumer products company.Shares of Southwest (LUV.N), United Continental (UAL.N), American Airlines (AAL.O) and Delta (DAL.N) rose between 2 percent and 4.2 percent after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) reported investments topping $2.1 billion in each of the carriers.
AIG (AIG.N) weighed the most on the S&P, dropping 8.8 percent to $60.95 after the commercial insurer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,550 to 1,249. On the Nasdaq, 1,357 issues rose and 1,301 fell.The S&P 500 index showed 60 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 101 new highs and 16 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)
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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2017 22:15:06 IST