Dow at record highs as Powell reiterates support to economy

by Jonathan Adams

The Dow ended up 1.35%, to 31,961, while the S&P 500 ended up 1.14% and the Nasdaq gained 0.99%

Stocks rose broadly on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average finishing at a record, after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the central bank will continue its support of the U.S. economy.

The Dow ended up 424 points, or 1.35%, to 31,961, setting an intraday record. The S&P 500 ended up 1.14% and the Nasdaq gained 0.99%.

Bond yields surged after Powell pledged continued economic support.

The 10-year Treasury yield traded at 1.381% on Wednesday, but had gained earlier to 1.435%, the highest since February 2020. Thirty-year yields reached 2.25%, the highest since January 2020.

Powell reiterated to lawmakers Wednesday that the central bank was a long way from scaling back its ongoing economic support.

The Fed chief also said interest rates would remain low as he noted the economic recovery “remains uneven and far from complete.” Powell signalled the central bank won’t soon begin tapering the $120 billion of bonds it has been buying per month until “substantial further progress” was achieved.

Powell said higher bond yields reflected investors’ confidence in an economic recovery, not concern about inflation. Powell said the Fed does expect inflation to rise but central bank has “the tools to deal with it.”

Powell was speaking Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee.

However, investors have been having a hard time shaking fears over rising inflation and higher borrowing costs with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill likely to pass and vaccine distribution across the country improving.

Tesla finished 6.2% higher on Wednesday on reports that Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment funds bought more than $170 million of shares in the electric vehicle maker during Tuesday’s selloff.

Johnson & Johnson traded up 1.3% after staff at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the company’s COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective. The move came ahead of a meeting Friday on emergency-use authorization for the vaccine.

Bitcoin added $49,119 Wednesday after dropping to $45,000 in the previous session. The cryptocurrency was getting a boost from Ark Investment’s Wood, who told Bloomberg she was “very positive on bitcoin, very happy to see a healthy correction here.”

Separately, Square said it purchased $170 million in bitcoin.

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