Wall Street regains footing after Powell calms inflation jitters

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes gained ground on Wednesday as a selloff in technology-related stocks eased and a rotation into cyclical shares continued after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments soothed inflation worries.

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Powell told lawmakers it may take more than three years to reach the central bank’s inflation goals, a further signal the Fed plans to look beyond any post-pandemic spike in prices and leave interest rates unchanged for a long time to come.

The Nasdaq index regained footing by early afternoon trading after falling as much as 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record high.

“There was a little bit of focus on inflation and interest rates but that’s going to be on the rear view mirror,” said David Yepez, lead equity analyst and portfolio manager at Exencial Wealth Advisors.

Value-oriented stocks have enjoyed a bit of a bounce recently, with the S&P 500 Value index rising for a fourth straight day.

The S&P 500 financial sector jumped 1.9% to hit a record high, while other cyclical stocks including industrials, energy and materials also rose.

The S&P 500 Growth index, housing most of the high-flying technology-related stocks, has come under pressure in the last few days due to valuation concerns, elevated Treasury yields and a shift in investments into more economy-sensitive parts of the market.

Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook and Apple Inc were down between 0.3% and 1%, while Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc reversed earlier declines.

“What’s happening is just a little bit of a shift out of growth and into value but today things are going slightly back to normal and you have a little bit more moving into growth as well,” Yepez said.

Growth-oriented stocks are particularly sensitive to rising yields as their value rests heavily on future earnings, which are discounted more deeply when bond returns go up.

Tesla Inc gained 4.8% after star investor Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest fund bought a further $171 million worth of the company’s shares in the wake of a sharp fall in the electric-car maker’s stock.

At 12:45 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones index was up 337.69 points, or 1.07%, at 31,875.04, the S&P 500 was up 34.36 points, or 0.89%, at 3,915.73 and the Nasdaq was up 92.14 points, or 0.68%, at 13,557.33.

All three main indexes were tracking strong monthly gains, with the Dow and the S&P 500 set for their best month since November.

Lowe’s Cos Inc slid 3.83% as it stuck by its 2021 outlook of a $4 billion to $8 billion drop in revenue, even after reporting blow-out fourth quarter results.

Uber Technologies Inc dropped 2.21% after a media report that Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co Ltd plans to make its entry in Western Europe.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.12-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 84 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 235 new highs and four new lows.

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