Summary

The major domestic equity indexes were higher on Wednesday, as gains in financial shares were powered by growing expectations for a December interest rate hike and on hopes President Trump’s administration may be making progress on a tax plan.

New capital goods orders increased more than expected during August and shipments maintained their upward trend, pointing to underlying strength in the economy.

The data, coupled with comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Tuesday raised anticipation the Federal Reserve would increase interest rates in December, lifting yields on Treasuries, which in turn pushed the financial index up 1.3 percent.

Trump proposed the largest tax overhaul in three decades but offered scant details about how to pay for the cuts without dramatically driving up federal deficits. If passed, the plan would be Trump’s first significant legislative win since taking office in January.

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 1.92 percent and notched its best day since early March. Small-cap names are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of a tax cut.

There is now a 78 percent chance of a December rate hike, compared with roughly 73 percent a week ago, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Bank of America rose 2.42 percent and Goldman Sachs gained 2.1 percent as the giving the largest boost to the Dow.

Interest-rate-sensitive and dividend-paying sectors declined. The consumer staples index fell 0.73 percent while utilities dropped 1.34 percent and real estate lost 0.84 percent.

Also serving to cap gains on the Dow and S&P were Nike (NKE.N) shares, which declined 1.92 percent after the company posted its slowest quarterly sales growth in nearly seven years and said it expected a further drop in revenue from North America.

About 6.55 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 5.91 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Orders for Capital Goods Increase

New capital goods orders increased more than expected during August and shipments maintained their upward trend, pointing to underlying strength in the economy despite an anticipated drag on growth from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

According to a report released by the Commerce Department Wednesday morning, non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, rose 0.9 percent last month after an upwardly revised 1.1 percent gain in July. Core capital goods orders surged 3.3 percent year-on-year.

Shipments of core capital goods rose 0.7 percent after advancing 1.1 percent in July. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

The Commerce Department also said it was unable to isolate the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the data as the survey is “designed to estimate the month-to-month change in manufacturing activity at the national level and not at specific geographic areas.”

Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas, has hurt August retail sales, industrial production, homebuilding and home sales. Irma, which struck Florida early this month, is expected to further hold down housing activity. As a result, the storms are expected to cut into third-quarter economic growth. Third-quarter GDP growth estimates are below a 2.5 percent annualized rate.

Business investment has been buoyed by the energy sector, where oil and gas drilling has rebounded after declining in the wake of a collapse in crude oil prices. Spending could get a further boost from an anticipated tax cut next year.

Business spending on equipment added almost half-a-percentage point to GDP in the third quarter, the most in nearly two years. Strong business investment is helping to support manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy.

Last month, orders for machinery rose 0.3 percent after being unchanged in July. There were also increases in orders for primary metals, computers and electronic products, and transportation equipment.

Overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft meant to last three years or more, surged 1.7 percent last month as bookings for transportation equipment jumped 4.9 percent.

Durable goods orders fell 6.8 percent in July. Boeing reported on its website that it received 33 aircraft orders in August, sharply up from 22 in the prior month. Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 1.5 percent in August after declining 2.1 percent in July.