Wall St inches up as markets await Fed speakers amid rate-cut hopes

Pointers from the financial market's performance in 2017 for the upcoming year. Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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Wall Street’s main indexes edged higher on Monday as investors geared up for commentary by a slew of policymakers later in the week which is likely to provide clarity on whether the Federal Reserve could cut rates next year.

U.S. equities posted their best weekly performance in about a year on Friday, boosted by tumbling Treasury yields as a weaker-than-expected monthly payrolls report spurred hopes that the Fed could start cutting rates next year.

Traders’ bets that the Fed will hold interest rates steady in December stand at 90%, while pricing in an about 80% chance the first policy easing would come as soon as June, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Such expectations will be put to the test this week as market participants gauge the views of a raft of Fed policymakers, including Chair Jerome Powell, due to speak in the coming days.

Other speakers include voting members such as New York Fed chief John Williams and Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan.

“When we look at the path of inflation with all the reports we’ve received and the ones we will likely get before the Fed meets again in December, the trend continues to be heading in the Fed’s direction,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth.

“All of that stands as a positive for the Fed’s ability to say they have reached a place where they’re restrictive enough to tamp down inflation closer to their 2% target without having crushed the economy and the labor market.”

Meanwhile, the yield on the benchmark ten-year Treasury note , which slid to five-week lows on Friday, edged up to 4.6431% on Monday, ahead of the Treasury’s auction of approximately $112 billion in three- and 10-year notes and 30-year bonds later this week.

The economic-data calendar for this week is light, with weekly jobless claims numbers due on Thursday and University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment report on Friday.

Walt Disney, Instacart and Biogen are among major companies reporting earnings this week.

A total of 403 companies in the S&P 500 have reported profits to date in the third quarter, with 81.6% surpassing analyst estimates, per LSEG data.

Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors climbed, with information technology and consumer discretionary leading gains.

At 11:57 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 52.99 points, or 0.16%, at 34,114.31, the S&P 500 was up 6.72 points, or 0.15%, at 4,365.06, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 39.45 points, or 0.29%, at 13,517.73.

Dish Network dropped 22.1% after the pay-TV provider missed third-quarter revenue estimates and announced CEO Erik Carlson would step down from the role.

Bumble slid 5.7% as the dating app operator said founder Whitney Wolfe Herd will step down as its chief executive.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.22-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.60-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded nine new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 23 new highs and 64 new lows.

Source: Reuters