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Stocks Turn Higher After Fed Holds Steady


U.S. stocks rose Wednesday after the Federal Reserve vowed to keep its easy-money policies in place until the U.S. economy further recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The S&P 500 added 0.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.6%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.4%, reversing losses earlier in the session.

All three indexes turned higher at the release of the central bank’s 2 p.m. ET statement. Investors are focused on any sign the monetary stimulus that has supported markets during the pandemic could begin to subside.

With unemployment still elevated, Fed officials are taking a cautious approach that supports the economy, said

George Catrambone,

head of Americas trading at asset manager DWS Group,

“Investors are taking some solace in that,” he said. “We’re going to make sure it’s there, that the recovery is sustainable and inflation is sustainable, before we really think about raising rates.”

The Fed also highlighted the brightening outlook for growth. Investors in recent weeks have trimmed bets on the technology stocks that soared earlier in the pandemic while adding shares of economically sensitive companies that should do well as the vaccine rollout progresses and more fiscal stimulus enters the financial system.

Shares of

Apple

and

Amazon.com

are down 5.6% and 3.1% this year, respectively, while the energy and financial sectors are leading the S&P 500.

“Tech is the funding source for reallocation,” said

Jamie Cox,

managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “You’re restoring the allocations that you had pre-pandemic.”

Money managers have started pricing in a rise in inflation, leading to a selloff in government bonds, and are betting that interest rates will start climbing by the end of next year. They have started exiting stocks that look to be too richly valued after last year’s rally.

“Markets across the board are expensive today, and that is pinned on central-bank support,” said

Hugh Gimber,

a strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “So this whole market is very, very sensitive to changes in central-bank policy.”

After the Fed’s reassurance that interest rates will stay low, shares of rapidly growing companies rebounded from earlier losses. The Russell 1000 Growth Index was recently up 0.3%, trailing a 0.4% gain by the Russell 1000 Value Index. Value stocks—which trade at low multiples of their book value, or net worth—have outperformed growth stocks in recent weeks.

“The resurgence of value investing has been the big story of the year,” said

Mace McCain,

chief investment officer at Frost Investment Advisors, noting that the rollout of coronavirus vaccines should help the economic recovery. “We expect tremendous growth this next year.”

In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.641%, from 1.622% Tuesday. Yields rise as the price falls. The yield has climbed sharply from this year’s low of 0.915% on Jan. 4.

Traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.



Photo:

Colin Ziemer/Associated Press

Among individual stocks,

NRG Energy

fell 17%. The company said it is withdrawing its 2021 financial guidance after the recent winter storm hit its results. Shares of

Plug Power

dropped 8% after the hydrogen and fuel-cell technology company said it would restate financial statements.

Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil, fell 0.6% to $68.00 a barrel.

In overseas markets, the Stoxx Europe 600 edged 0.4% lower. Most major indexes in Asia were little changed. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite, Hang Seng and Nikkei 225 indexes all ended the day nearly flat.

Write to Karen Langley at [email protected] and Will Horner at [email protected]

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