Wall Street hit new heights Wednesday, with the S&P 500 breaking the fabled 3,000 points mark for the first time (albeit briefly) while the two other main indices posted new highs.
The S&P 500 opened at 2,989.30 and hit a high of 3,002.98 mid day. It closed below 3,000 at 2,993.07, up 0.45 percent. On the other hand, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 76.71 points, or 0.3 percent, at 26,860.20 after rallying nearly 200 points. The NASDAQ Composite ended the day below its session high, but still closed at a record 8,202, up 60.80 points or 0.75 percent.
Wall Street’s record breaking ascent was triggered by testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell all but confirming a new rate cut within the month. Analysts said Powell’s admission means the U.S. economy is in trouble and Fed intervention is necessary to get it back on the growth track.
Traders have priced in a 100 percent likelihood of a Fed rate cut in July, according to the FedWatch tool from CME Group.
Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said business investments across the country have “notably” slowed recently. Powell also said uncertainties over the economic outlook linger.
“Crosscurrents have reemerged,” said Powell. “Many FOMC participants saw that the case for a somewhat more accommodative monetary policy had strengthened. Since then, based on incoming data and other developments, it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook.”
In the first of two testimonies on successive days, Powell said “broad” global weakness is clouding the U.S. economic outlook. This weakness comes amid uncertainty about the consequences arising from Trump’s intractable trade war with China and other leading economies such as the European Union and India.
Powell said the Fed stands ready to “act as appropriate” to support record U.S. economic growth now under threat. The Dow hit an intraday record and the NASDAQ closed at an all-time high after Powell’s testimony.
Powell’s statement emphasizing that current trade conditions and muted economic activity are dampening the U.S. economy’s outlook had a sanguine effect on the market. Powell did reiterate the U.S. economy remains strong.
“Powell’s prepared testimony struck a decidedly dovish cord with ‘uncertainties’ over trade and global growth since the June FOMC meeting characterized as having dimmed the outlook.” said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates at BMO Capital Markets. “By way of an update, the Chair just confirmed that things have gotten worse.”
A surprisingly stronger June jobs report softened expectations for a more aggressive easing, however
The Fed on Wednesday also released its minutes from the June policy meeting. In sum, the minutes re-emphasized the case for easier monetary policy is now stronger.
Powell “fully endorsed the July rate cut and did absolutely nothing to pull the markets back from that expectation,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group. “There was little in the statement to imply what this means past the July meeting, but we can infer that any further softening in the data past July will likely mean more action from the Fed at subsequent meetings.”