The major domestic equity indexes were higher on Tuesday as concerns over rising trade tensions between the United States and China eased after Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to cut import tariffs.
The technology sector, which would be particularly exposed to a negative impact from tense trade relations with China, provided the largest boost to the S&P 500 index.
Xi said China will widen market access for foreign investors, a point of contention for Trump’s administration. His comments buoyed global markets, which have been under pressure as China and the United States threatened each other with billions of dollars in tariffs.
Facebook shares added the most gains to the S&P 500, rising 4.5 percent after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg began his testimony before Congress and took questions from lawmakers. It was the biggest one-day percentage gain for the stock in nearly two years.
The energy index had the highest percentage gain among the S&P’s 11 major sectors, adding 3.3 percent as oil broke above $70 a barrel.
Only utilities and real estate, which are sensitive to interest rates, posted losses after producer prices rose more than expected in March, indicating that inflation is strengthening, which could push interest rates up further. However, the increase in producer prices did not prompt broader concerns about future market performance.
Stocks will face a major test in coming weeks as first-quarter earnings pour in. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo will kick off the earnings season on Friday.
The consensus is that quarterly earnings for S&P 500 companies will increase 18.5 percent from a year ago, making it the largest gain in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sprint rose 17.1 percent after reports that the company had restarted merger talks with T-Mobile. T-Mobile rose 5.7 percent.
Approximately 7.14 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges on Tuesday, as compared to the 7.33 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Producer Price Index Rises
Producer prices increased more than expected in March, boosted by rising healthcare and food costs, pointing to a steady buildup of inflation pressures. It is likely that rising inflation will prompt the Fed to raise interest rates three more times this year. The
Producer prices have risen solidly since January, largely driven by the services components. These increases will likely increase the consumer price index (CPI) and the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index.
The Labor Department said on Tuesday its producer price index for final demand rose 0.3 percent last month after increasing 0.2 percent in February. That lifted the year-on-year increase in the PPI to 3.0 percent from 2.8 percent in February.
A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services rose 0.4 percent last month, advancing by the same margin for a third straight month. This so-called core PPI increased 2.9 percent in the 12 months through March, the biggest gain since August 2014, after climbing 2.7 percent in February.
March’s broad-based increase in wholesale prices supports views that inflation will pick up this year. The survey also showed the proportion of businesses raising wages to attract or retain workers was the largest in more than 17 years.
A tightening labor market, a weak dollar and fiscal stimulus in the form of a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and increased government spending are seen pushing inflation toward the Fed’s 2 percent target this year.
The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the PCE price index excluding food and energy, increased 1.6 percent in February after being stuck at 1.5 percent for four straight months. The Labor Department will publish March CPI data on Wednesday.
The price of services increased 0.3 percent in March, rising by the same margin for a third consecutive month. Services, which accounted for 70 percent of the increase in the PPI last month, were boosted by a 0.4 percent rise in the cost of outpatient care.
Those costs feed into the core PCE price index. There were also increases in the cost of airline tickets, and cable and satellite subscriber services. But prices of wholesale apparel, footwear and wireless communications services fell last month.
Prices for goods rose 0.3 percent, after slipping 0.1 percent in February. They were lifted by a 2.2 percent jump in wholesale food prices. That was the biggest increase since April 2014 and followed three straight monthly declines.
Wholesale food prices last month were driven by a surge in the cost of unprocessed fish, chicken eggs and fresh and dry vegetables. Gasoline prices dropped 3.7 percent after falling 1.6 percent in February.
In a separate report on Tuesday, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories increased a bit less than initially estimated in February, but still suggested that inventory investment would contribute to economic growth in the first quarter after being a drag on output in the prior period.
Wholesale inventories rose 1.0 percent instead of the 1.1 percent jump it reported last month. That was the biggest increase since October 2013. Stocks at wholesalers increased 0.9 percent in January.
Federal Reserve Proposes New Capital Rules
The Federal Reserve on Tuesday proposed new rules that could allow some large banks to reduce the amount of capital they must hold as a cushion against a future economic shock.
The proposal may clear the way for some large banks to reduce their capital levels in the future but the largest firms on Wall Street are not likely to get such relief, the Fed said.
The proposal is expected to reduce bank paperwork and also make it easier for regulators to monitor the health of banks, said Randal Quarles who is the top Fed official in charge of regulations.
“Our regulatory measures are most effective when they are as simple and transparent as possible,” Quarles, the Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision, said in a statement.
The Fed said the proposed changes are likely to somewhat increase the amount of capital required for the 30 largest banks known as GSIBs or global systemically important banks.
The measures should modestly decrease the amount of capital required for banks smaller than the GSIBs, the Fed said.
“No firm is expected to need to raise additional capital because of this proposal,” the Fed said in a statement.
Banks and other stakeholders will have 60 days to comment on the proposal that is likely to take effect next year, said the Federal Reserve.
The new capital standards would be the first reform of capital standards conceived after the decade-old financial crisis.
The new capital standard would be called the ‘stress capital buffer’ and work in tandem with the annual Fed checkup on bank health known as the ‘stress test’.