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U.S. stocks roar back after Powell's reassurance


The S&P 500 Index erased a drop to end the day higher after reassuring comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on inflation and the outlook for growth spurred traders to buy the dip.

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The benchmark stock gauge closed 0.1% higher after declining as much as 1.8% amid a rout in technology shares on concern the highflying stocks had become overvalued. The Nasdaq 100 ended just slightly lower, mostly erasing a loss that reached 3.5% after Powell signaled the Federal Reserve was nowhere close to pulling back on its support for the economy. Airlines, lodging companies and cyclical shares set to benefit from the end of pandemic lockdowns outperformed.

So-called growth shares are having their worst month against value counterparts in more than two decades as vaccination campaigns gather pace and bond yields hover near a one-year high. Bets on faster growth have pushed the gap between 5- and 30-year yields to the highest level in more than six years.

As Powell reassured investors on stimulus, he voiced expectations for a return to more normal, improved activity later this year and said that higher bond yields reflected economic optimism, not inflation fears. That helped fuel a return of the buy-the-dip mentality that has limited equity drawdowns in recent months, with investors betting on a global economic recovery spurred by vaccines and U.S. spending.

"There was something in there for everyone today," Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. "Powell did recognize medium-term improvement in the economy but I think laid to rest some percolating inflation fears."

Elsewhere, stocks in Asia were mostly higher as European shares slumped. Bitcoin tumbled below $50,000 after a bout of volatility highlighted lingering doubts about the durability of the token's rally.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

- The S&P 500 Index rose 0.1% as of 4 p.m. EST.

- The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.4%.

- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1%.

- The MSCI Emerging Market Index was little changed.

Currencies

- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1%.

- The euro fell 0.1% to $1.215.

- The British pound rose 0.4% to $1.4114.

- The Japanese yen fell 0.2% to 105.27 per dollar.

Bonds

- The yield on 10-year Treasurys was little changed at 1.36%.

- Germany's 10-year yield jumped two basis points to -0.32%.

- Britain's 10-year yield rose four basis points to 0.72%.

Commodities

- West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.5% to $62.03 a barrel.

- Gold fell 0.2% to $1,805.81 an ounce.

Published : February 24, 2021

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Vildana Hajric, Claire Ballentine