U.S. stocks finished higher on Wednesday, reversing earlier losses after the Federal Reserveraised its policy interest rate by 25 basis points, as widely expected, while signaling a only a few more might be needed in its inflation fight.
The Nasdaq Composite finished at the highest level since mid-September, while the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 both scored their biggest intraday recovery from session lows since Oct. 13, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
How stock indexes traded?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
finished 6.92 points higher, or nearly flat at 34,092.96
The S&P 500
gained 42.61 points, or 1%, to end at 4,119.21
The Nasdaq Composite
advanced 231.77 points, or 2%, to finish at 11,816.32
On Tuesday, the Dow industrials climbed 368.95 points, or 1.1%, to end at 34,086.04, the S&P 500 gained 58.83 points, or 1.5%, to finish at 4,076.60, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 190.74 points, or 1.7%, ending at 11,584.55.
What drove markets?
U.S. stock indexes closed higher, reversing the Dow industrials earlier slide by more than 500 points, after the central bank increased its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to a range of 4.5% to 4.75%, while signaling that potentially only a “couple more hikes” were likely to achieve an “approximately restrictive stance.”
The stock market bounced off session lows to turn higher after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in his press conference following the decision that financial conditions had tightened significantly over the past year. He also acknowledged for the first time that “the disinflationary process has started.”
See: Fed lifts interest rates again but sees only a ‘couple more hikes’ in fight against inflation
Vincent Reinhart, chief economist and macro strategist at Dreyfus and Mellon, said investors didn’t get a hawkish Powell, but a cautious Fed boss who didn’t push back on markets.
“[Powell said] they’ve got their inflation forecast and market participants had their inflation forecast,” Reinhart told MarketWatch via phone. “I think the big difference is market participants expected a bigger protest from Powell, a bigger pushback about financial conditions. [But] he was cautious and just said it’s a difference of opinion.”
“He maintained the view [that] the risk of doing too much is less than the risk of doing too little.”
See: Why Fed vs. markets showdown leaves Powell at disadvantage
In U.S. economic data on Wednesday, the ISM, or Institute for Supply Management said its January manufacturing sector activity index fell to 47.4% in January from 48.4% in the prior month. A reading below 50% signal the manufacturing sector is contracting.
U.S. job openings rose to 11 million in December from 10.4 million. The number of U.S. workers quitting in December dipped to 4.09 million from 4.1 million in the prior month.
ADP said the private sector added 106,000 jobs in January. It is a significant drop from the revised 253,000 jobs added in December. Economists forecasted an increase of 190,000.
Apart from the Fed outcome, investors will get two more big central bank decisions this week, from the European Central Bank and Bank of England, both expected to hike another 50 basis points on Thursday. Fresh data showed eurozone inflation for January coming in lower than expected on Wednesday, at a rise of 8.5%, the lowest since May.
In corporate earnings reporting, shares of Snap Inc.
finished 10.3% lower on Wednesday after the social-media group posted a disappointing quarterly revenue and offered no guidance. Peloton Interactive Inc.
shares ended 26% higher after the company posted a $335.4 million loss for its latest quarter. Still, it indicated improvement from the connected-fitness company’s cash-burning peaks.
is expected to report its third consecutive quarterly sales decline when it issues results after the close on Wednesday.
Read: Tech stocks just had their best January in decades — here’s why that may not be a good sign
Companies in focus
Advanced Micro Devices
shares ended up 12.6% Wednesday after the chip maker’s data-center sales rose and executives predicted sales of more than $5 billion to start 2023.
Electronic Arts Inc.
stock fell 9.3% after the gaming company delivered a downbeat forecast and shelved mobile versions of two popular games.
Match Group Inc.
shares plunged 5% after the online-dating company met revenue expectations for its latest quarter but fell short with its first-quarter outlook, while saying that at least the first half of the year could remain “challenging.”
topped Wall Street expectations for its fourth quarter, but the drug maker’s shares fell 2.4% as its 2023 guidance fell on the lower end of Wall Street’s expectations.
shares went up 4.2% after the company said it intends to lay off about 4% of its staff as cutbacks in the software industry intensify.
shares rose 0.3% after the company reported Wednesday fourth-quarter profit that beat expectations but revenue that came up a bit shy, while predicting “robust” Medicare Advantage membership growth in 2023.
shares rose 1.1% after the company said it expects continued strong growth in its customer base this year, though not as robust as what was seen in 2022.
— Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this report.