Stock market today: Dow ends higher as Fed minutes show end of jumbo hikes 'soon'

By Yasin Ebrahim -- The Dow closed higher Wednesday, as the Federal Reserve’s November meeting minutes showed support for slowing of rate hikes “soon” at a time when data continue to point to a slowing economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.28%, or 96 points, the Nasdaq rose 1%, and the S&P 500 rose 0.6%,

“A substantial majority of participants judged that a slowing in the pace of increase would likely soon be appropriate,” the Fed's minutes showed.

The further hint at a slowing pace of rates reaffirmed investor expectations that the central bank is likely to slow hikes to 50 basis points at its December meeting.

“We continue to expect the Fed to hike by 50bp in December but then by only 25bp in January, with no further hikes,” Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note following the Fed meeting.

The bets on a slower pace of rate hikes come in the wake of data Wednesday showing weaker-than-expected housing, manufacturing and services activity.  

Treasury yields slipped further into the red following the minutes, paving the way for growth sectors of the market including consumer discretionary and tech to add to early-day gains.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) led the gains for big tech rising more than 1%. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose less than 1% even as iPhone supply worries continued to linger amid Covid-19 lockdowns at China-based supplier Foxconn.

Despite the supply worries, Apple is seeing "strong" iPhone upgrade activity from AT&T and Verizon and in-store activity has been "solid,” Wedbush said in a note.

Consumer stocks, meanwhile, were led higher by a more than 7% rise in Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) after Citigroup upgraded the stock to neutral from sell, citing a more balanced valuation following the recent pullback.

The earnings front, meanwhile, delivered mixed quarterly results.

Deere&Company (NYSE:DE) delivered a full-year outlook pointing to ongoing demand after reporting quarterly results that topped Wall Street estimates, sending its shares more than 6% higher.

Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) fell 5% as better-than-expected quarterly results were offset by slowing sales that raised concerns that the department store may have to increase promotional activity, hurting margins.

“[W]e struggle to see how JWN will achieve its implied 7.9% to 9.1% EBIT margin in 4Q,” Credit Suisse said in a note.

Energy stocks struggled to join in on the rally as falling oil prices weighed on investor sentiment amid data showing a larger-than-expected drop in weekly U.S. crude stockpiles and reports that G7 nations are weighing up a price cap on Russian oil in a range of $65 to $70 per barrel.

Schlumberger NV (NYSE:SLB), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) were the biggest drags in the sector.

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