Dow ends up 1.4% as US stocks cheer latest Fed rate hike

Traders react on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, as a screen shows Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell speaking at a news conference following the Fed's rate announcement. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks rallied on Wednesday (July 27) as the Federal Reserve again proceeded with a large interest rate hike, maintaining its forceful stance to combat inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.4 per cent at 32,197.59.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 2.6 per cent to 4,023.61, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 4.1 per cent to 12,032.42.

The US central bank carried out the second straight 75 basis point increase, and the fourth rate hike this year, moving aggressively to cool the strongest surge in inflation in more than four decades without derailing the world's largest economy.

In a vote that was unanimous, the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee raised the benchmark lending rate to a range of 2.25 to 2.5 per cent, after starting the year with the rate near zero.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell said that while there are signs of slowing, he did not believe the US economy was currently in recession, in part because of the strong job market.

Analysts said the central bank's move met market expectations and took heart in Powell's statements that implied the central bank could undertake smaller interest rate hikes later in 2022 after two straight super-sized increases.

Wall Street "is contemplating less aggressive monetary policy at least on the Fed Funds rate as we move from the third quarter into the fourth quarter," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B Riley Wealth Management.

Stocks had been in positive territory prior to the Fed's announcement at 1800 GMT, but added to gains during Powell's news conference before the close.

All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 finished higher, along with most of the 30 members of the Dow index.

Very large gains were enjoyed by both Microsoft, up 6.7 per cent, and Google parent Alphabet, up 7.7 per cent, despite reporting lower profits that were still not as bad than feared.

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