The major equity indexes were up sharply on Wednesday, as sharply rising oil prices aided energy stocks following Trump’s decision the previous day to pull out of a nuclear agreement with Iran.
Gains were broad, and volume was high, with all but the utilities and telecom sectors advancing as investors who had moved to the sidelines in recent days ahead of Trump’s decision returned to the market.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the international agreement aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was good news for investors betting on a rise in oil prices.
The price of crude oil hit its highest level in 3-1/2 years as investors bet the withdrawal would increase risks of conflict in the Middle East and curtail global oil supplies. As a result, the S&P energy index rose 2.03 percent, bringing its gain this quarter to 12.6 percent, more than any other sector.
The Cboe Volatility Index ended the trading day down 1.29 points at 13.42, its lowest close since January 26.
Worries lingered that rising oil prices would perk up inflation. The 10-year Treasury yield reached a two-week high and ended above the key 3 percent level on expectations of higher interest rates.
With March-quarter reports mostly wrapped up, S&P 500 earnings per share appear to have surged by 25.9 percent, helped by deep corporate tax cuts introduced this year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In stock trading, Google-owner Alphabet ended the trading with a gain of 2.87 percent, providing a greater lift to the S&P 500 index than any other stock. It was followed by Facebook, which rose 2.09 percent.
Walmart fell 3.13 percent after the retailer took a majority stake in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart for about $16 billion.
Walt Disney fell 1.79 percent despite reporting a quarterly earnings number that was above Street estimates.
Approximately 7.1 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.6 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Producer Price Index Tame
Producer prices were tame in April after strong gains in the first quarter, held down by a moderation in the cost of both goods and services, which could ease fears that inflation pressures were rapidly building up.
The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that its producer price index for final demand edged up 0.1 percent last month after increasing 0.3 percent in March.
That lowered the year-on-year increase in the PPI to 2.6 percent from 3.0 percent in March.
A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services also nudged up 0.1 percent last month. The so-called core PPI had increased by 0.4 percent in each of the past three months.
In the 12 months through April, the core PPI rose 2.5 percent after jumping 2.9 percent in March.
Last month’s slowdown in wholesale price growth is likely temporary as manufacturers have been reporting paying more for raw materials. Core goods prices increased 0.3 percent in April, matching March’s gain.
Inflation is flirting with the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target. The U.S. central bank’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, increased 1.9 percent year-on-year in March and is expected to breach its target in the coming months.
This comes as last year’s big declines in prices of cell phone service plans drop out of the calculation.
Fed officials have in recent days signaled they would not be too concerned if inflation overshot the central bank’s target, reiterating a message in a statement issued at the end of a two-day policy meeting last Wednesday.
In that statement, policymakers said they expected annual inflation to run close to its “symmetric” 2 percent target over the medium term. The U.S. central bank left interest rates unchanged last week. The Fed hiked rates in March and has forecast at least two more increases for this year.
In April, the price of services ticked up 0.1 percent. That followed two straight monthly increases of 0.3 percent.
Services were restrained by a 3.2 percent drop in the cost of hotel accommodation, which was the biggest decline since September 2009.
The cost of healthcare services fell 0.2 percent after increasing 0.3 percent in March. Those costs feed into the core PCE price index.
Prices for goods were unchanged last month after rising 0.3 percent in March.
Wholesale food prices fell 1.1 percent last month, the largest decline since August 2016, after rising 2.2 percent in March. Gasoline prices fell 0.4 percent in April after falling 3.7 percent during the prior month.