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Equities Push Higher in US as Markets Await Fed Meeting Minutes

10:44 AM, Feb 21, 2018 — The benchmark US equity markets advanced on Wednesday, paring losses made a day earlier as investors awaited the minutes from last month’s Federal Open Markets Committee meeting.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average saw more than two thirds of its components increase, helping overshadow more losses for Walmart (WMT). All of the sectors on the Standard & Poor’s 500 were in the green apart from real estate and energy, which dipped amid price declines for crude oil.

The Fed in January “noted a specific forecast for a ‘move up’ in inflation this year warranting a ‘further’ removal of accommodation,” Lindsey Piegza, chief economist with Stifel Economics, said in an e-mailed note. “The minutes are likely to provide additional context as to policymakers’ forecast for inflation and the likely policy response should inflation fail to ‘move up’ this year.”

Financials, which can benefit from higher interest rates, were up 0.5% on the S&P 500, as was information technology, industrials and materials. Also in economic data, January existing home sales fell to 5.38 million against expectations for 5.6 million. February manufacturing PMI rose to a 40-month high of 55.9 from 55.5, beating estimates for 55. The composite and services measures also beat expectations.

In company news, Advance Auto Parts (AAP) jumped almost 13% as the automotive aftermarket parts provider reported better-than expected fourth quarter earnings and revenue. Vonage (VG) dropped 11% as the telephone provider’s quarterly revenue just missed analysts’ expectations while its GAAP loss widened.

Tile Shop (TTS) plunged 27% after swinging to a loss in the fourth quarter, while Ruth’s (RUTH) was up 4% after its earnings rose year on year.

In morning trading, the Nasdaq rose 0.7%, the S&P 500 gained 0.5% and the Dow increased 0.4%.

Globally, the Hang Seng jumped 1.8%, the Nikkei 225 added 0.2%, the FTSE 100 rose 0.5% and the Shanghai Composite was closed.

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