Wall Street rallies past 21,000 as punters bet on a US rate hike

After piercing 20,000, the Dow Jones index races quickly past 21,000

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 7:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 7:03am

Wall Street rallied, lifting the Dow above 21,000, as investors increased bets on an imminent interest rate hike and gave a sigh of relief after President Donald Trump’s speech to Congress.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq had their best one-day gain since November 7, one day before Trump’s election, and they also closed at record highs along with the Dow. The global MSCI ACWI index , rose 0.9 per cent and also hit a record.

Financial stocks were the biggest boost for Wall Street after hawkish comments from two prominent Federal Reserve Officials as higher rates help bank profits.

In his speech Tuesday, Trump pledged to lift the economy of the US, tweeting:

While some investors had hoped for specifics on how the administration would pay for its promises, investors who had kept money off the table ahead of the speech were relieved by the President’s more measured than expected tone.

“People were concerned Trump was maybe running off the rails. After the speech last night everybody walked away with a good feeling,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “Some of the things he said, the algebra doesn’t work but people know the direction it’s going to go.”

But the rally may be short. If Congress puts up roadblocks to Trump’s plans or if he starts sounding less presidential, “the air is out of the rally,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 303.31 points, or 1.46 per cent, at 21,115.55, the S&P 500 rose 32.32 points, or 1.37 per cent, to 2,395.96 and the Nasdaq Composite added 78.59 points, or 1.35 per cent, to 5,904.03.

Yields on 2-year US Treasuries hit a more than seven year peak on increased bets on a March rate hike.

Investors are now pricing in around a 66.4-per cent probability of a March hike, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool. They had priced in only around a 35-per cent chance that the Fed would move this month before the Fed comments.

Two Fed officials hint March US rate increase maybe on the table

The yield on 2-year Treasury notes rose to a high of 1.308 per cent, its highest since August 2009 while the 10-year notes’ yield rose to 2.471 per cent, the highest since February 16.

“Between the risk-on move in equities and this fear that we could get a rate hike (in two weeks), we saw a lot of traders scramble and start to price in that eventuality, which meant they had to start selling a lot of their bonds,” said Kim Rupert, managing director of global fixed income analysis at Action Economics in San Francisco.

The dollar rose 0.6 per cent against a basket of currencies and touched its highest level since January 11.

In commodity markets, oil futures turned negative after US crude inventories rose to a record high. US crude settled down 0.3 per cent at US$53.83 while Brent crude settled down 0.27 per cent at US$56.36.

Gold, dropped 0.14 per cent to US$1,246.62 an ounce, extending Tuesday’s drop.