Stocks closed higher on Wall Street following the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting, which showed Fed officials agreed that smaller rate hikes would likely be appropriate "soon." That's likely to stoke optimism among investors who have been trying to gauge how soon the central bank will begin to dial back its aggressive pace of rate hikes in its campaign to lower inflation, the AP reports. The S&P 500 rose 23.68 points, or 0.6%, to 4,027.26. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 95.96 points, or 0.3%, to 34,194.06. The Nasdaq rose 110.91 points, or 1%, to 11,285.32.
At the meeting early this month, the Fed officials expressed uncertainty about how long it might take for their rate hikes to slow the economy enough to tame inflation. At a news conference following the Nov. 1-2 meeting, Chair Jerome Powell stressed that that the Fed wasn't even close to declaring victory in its fight to curb high inflation. Other Fed officials have signaled in recent weeks that additional hikes are still needed. Still, the minutes show Fed officials also agreed that smaller rate hikes "would likely soon be appropriate." Fed officials also expressed uncertainty about how long it might take for their rate hikes to tame inflation, though some expressed hope that falling commodity prices and the unsnarling of supply chain bottlenecks “should contribute to lower inflation in the medium term.
The average rate on a 30-year mortgage edged lower for the second time in as many weeks, though it remains more than double what it was a year ago, a significant hurdle for many would-be homebuyers. Technology stocks and some big retailers led the gains Wednesday. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 3% and Target rose 3.5%. Farming equipment maker Deere gained 5% after reporting stronger financial results than analysts were expecting. Crude oil prices fell 3.7% and weighed down energy stocks. Hess fell 2.2%. Trading has been unsteady during the holiday-shortened week, but major indexes are on track for weekly gains. US markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday.
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