Wall Street rises as hawkish Fed boosts financial stocks

Wall Street rose on Monday morning, helped by financial stocks that gained a day after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the case for an interest rate hike had strengthened.

Yellen, addressing a gathering of global central bankers on Friday, said the central bank was close to meeting its goals of maximum employment and stable prices, while describing consumer spending as “solid”.

Yellen gave little indication of when the Fed would move but Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer suggested that a move as soon as next month could be possible.

“It’s a delicate yet deliberate delivery of reality,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital. “Rates are going to move higher, based on the economic evidence, but the “when” of the move is up in the air.”

Financial stocks, which stand to gain the most in a higher interest rate environment, rose as traders raised bets on a hike in the coming months.

The S&P 500 financial index .SPSY rose 0.6 percent, with Wells Fargo (WFC.N) and JPMorgan (JPM.N) rising about 0.8 percent.

The index was trading at its highest level since Dec. 30, shortly after the Fed raised rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

The chances of a rate hike in September jumped to 30 percent from 21 percent, while the measure rose to 45.1 percent from 41.4 percent for December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, rose for the fourth straight month in July.

Still, in the 12 months through July the core personal consumption expenditure, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, increased 1.6 percent, below its 2 percent target.

At 9:39 a.m. ET (1339 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 74.82 points, or 0.41 percent, at 18,470.22.

The S&P 500 .SPX was up 8.05 points, or 0.37 percent, at 2,177.09.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 11.51 points, or 0.22 percent, at 5,230.42.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.25 percent, trading at more than a two-week high, while oil prices slipped more than 1 percent.

Microsoft (MSFT.O) rose 0.8 percent and gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq after UBS raised its price target.

Mylan (MYL.O) shares rose 1 percent after the drugmaker announced a generic version of its allergy treatment EpiPen.

Herbalife (HLF.N) rose 4 percent after Carl Icahn bought 2.3 million shares in the nutritional supplements maker after denying reports of attempts to sell his stake.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,763 to 859. On the Nasdaq, 1,327 issues rose and 903 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and three new lows.

Source: Reuters