Stock Market Today: S&P 500 ends higher after Powell reinforces rate-cut hopes

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Stock Market Today: S&P 500 ends higher after Powell reinforces rate-cut hopes The S&P 500 closed higher Wednesday, as the rally in tech returned following weakness a day earlier after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reinforced expectations that interest rate cuts were coming later in the year.

At 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 75 points, or 0.2%, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% and the NASDAQ Composite gained 0.6%. 

Powell says Fed will act 'carefully', but reaffirms rate cuts incoming 

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in prepared remarks ahead of his testimony that the central bank expects to reduce its benchmark interest rate later this year.

During the question-and-answer session with House Financial Services Committee members, the Fed chief said that the central bank could afford to approach rate cuts "carefully" because of the strength in the economy and labor market, but expects the Fed will reach confidence to cut "sometime this year."

"Overall, we would not call Powell's remarks dovish, but if his word choice was intentional then the bar to reducing rates does not appear exceptionally high. In our view, it is reasonable to keep June as the base case for the first policy rate cut," BofA Securities U.S. Economist Michael Gapen commented.

On the economic front, data continued to show a strong labor market a job openings rose more than expected in January, though the economy created fewer private jobs than expected. The Nonfarm payrolls data due on Friday is set to provide more cues on that front.

Tech strikes back on dip-buying action in chips; CrowdStrike soars on earnings

Tech was back in the ascendency, pushing the broader market higher as recent dip in chip stocks attracted dip buyers, with NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA ), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC ), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM ), and Wolfspeed Inc (NYSE: WOLF ) among the biggest gainers.  

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, closed nearly 5% higher, after JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) lifted its price target on the chipmaker to NT$850 from NT$770, citing optimism about AI-related chip demand.

On the earnings stage, CrowdStrike (NASDAQ: CRWD ) stock soared around 11% after the cybersecurity firm reported consensus-beating quarterly earnings and guidance. The strong beat was driven by "continued momentum in their Cloud, Identity, and LogScale/SIEM segments," Wedbush said in a note.

Box Inc (NYSE: BOX ), up more than 8%, also reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street estimates as the cloud storage provider ramped up billings growth, helped by early renewals., RBC said. The analyst day in two weeks, RBC added, is expected to offer a deeper dive on long-term strategy. 

These gains also pulled its peers, including Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW ), Zscaler (NASDAQ: ZS ) and Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT ) all gaining. 

Campbell Soup Q4 results top estimates, Nordstorm slips on soft guidance 

Campbell Soup (NYSE: CPB ) gained nearly 1% after reporting Q4 results that topped analyst estimates as price hikes boosted performance, and maker of soups and other foods, reiterated its full-year guidance.   

Luxury department store chain Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN ) fell 16% after its annual earnings forecast underwhelmed. 

NYCB rebounds after securing $1 billion funding boost

NYCB closed 8% higher after falling more than 40% intraday as investors cheered news that the struggling regional bank had raised over $1 billion from an investor consortium, led by former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's Liberty Strategic Capital. 

The regional bank raised about $1.05B by selling stock to the investors at a price per share of $2.00 and a series of convertible preferred stock with a conversion price of $2.00. The deal also included  leadership changes including the appointment of a new chief executive officer.    

(Peter Nurse, Ambar Warrick contributed to this article.)

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