NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks jumped on Wednesday (March 2), shrugging off worries about higher oil prices as Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell signalled a patient approach to hiking interest rates.
Despite ongoing worries about the impact of the war in Ukraine, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 33,891.35, up 1.8 per cent.
The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.9 per cent to 4,386.54, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 1.6 per cent to 13,752.02.
United States oil prices finished at their highest level since 2011 after Saudi Arabia, Russia and other top oil exporters declined to increase output more quickly despite the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
While the rise in crude is expected to worsen already-worrying inflation, markets took solace in comments from Mr Powell favouring a modest quarter-point increase in the benchmark borrowing rate rather than making a more aggressive, half-point hike for the first step.
But, he said, "We will need to be nimble in responding to incoming data and the evolving outlook," and left open the possibility of bigger moves if inflation stays high.
Investors appreciated signs that the Fed "may not have to tighten as aggressively as we all originally thought," said Cresset Capital Management's Jack Ablin, who noted that futures markets have reduced the number of interest rate hikes expect this year.
Analysts also said markets were positioned to rise due to sentiment they had sold off excessively due to Ukraine.
Among individual companies, Ford jumped 8.4 per cent as it announced it is creating separate businesses for its conventional and electric auto operations, as it accelerates its build-out of emission-free vehicles.
Department store chain Nordstrom surged 37.8 per cent as it reported better-than-expected results and projected revenues grow the of 5 per cent to 7 per cent this year.