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Dow jumps 150 points as Powell prepares markets for Fed’s bond taper

Dow jumps 150 points as Powell prepares markets for Fed’s bond taper

27 Aug 2021

Traders work at the trading floor in the New York Stock Exchange in New York, the United States, Aug. 19, 2021.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Stocks rose on Friday and headed for a winning week as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell prepared the markets for the central bank to pull back on some of its monetary stimulus, saying it’s likely to start tapering its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 152 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2%.

With the stock market near records, investors have been betting the Fed can remove stimulus without causing a so-called taper tantrum that shoots rates higher rapidly and knocks equities.

“The Fed may start tapering its bond purchases soon, which has caused a lot of angst on Wall Street and Main Street,” said Ally Invest chief investment strategist Lindsay Bell. “While it hasn’t caused any big swings yet, the Fed’s plans may be tough to digest against a backdrop of rising COVID cases and slowing, but solid, economic data. Plus, the market rarely stays quiet for this long.”

The 10-year Treasury yield, which ran up this week into the Powell speech, eased slightly after the Fed chief’s remarks as Powell made clear that interest rate hikes would not immediately follow after tapering was over. The financial markets’ reaction Friday is a sign that the central bank has successfully prepped investors so far for a removal of its $120 billion a month in bond buying and may avoid a ‘taper tantrum’ that rocked markets temporarily at end of 2013.

Shares of Gap gained nearly 5% after the apparel retailer’s quarterly earnings report beat on top and bottom lines, while Peloton shares dropped after the exercise equipment company’s fourth-quarter financial results missed Wall Street estimates. Peloton fell 7.5%.

Energy stocks were higher, after being among the hardest hit on Thursday. Occidental Petroleum climbed more than 5% while Diamondback, Devon Energy and Halliburton rose about 3%.

The three major U.S. indexes closed Thursday’s regular trading session lower. The Dow snapped a four-day win streak while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both broke five-day win streaks.

Market participants also monitored new developments in Afghanistan, which appeared to weigh on investor sentiment. The Pentagon on Thursday confirmed that explosions near Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan killed 13 U.S. service members and wounded 18.

“Markets don’t like uncertainty and the uncertainty in Afghanistan is high and feels like it’s rising,” said Bob Doll, chief investment officer of Crossmark Global Investments.

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Investors also await a consumer sentiment reading to be released Friday morning.

The three major stock averages are all set to close the week in the green. The Dow is up 0.3% week-to-date, while the S&P 500 is up 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite is 1.6% higher.

The indexes are on track to end the month higher. The Dow is up 0.8% in August. The S&P 500 is 1.7% higher and the Nasdaq Composite is up 1.9% this month.

— Jeff Cox contributed to this report.