U.S. Stocks Holding On To Strong Gains In Afternoon Trading

After showing a strong move to the upside early in the session, stocks remain sharply higher in afternoon trading on Wednesday. With the rally, the major averages have largely offset the steep losses posted in the previous session.

The major averages have moved roughly sideways in recent trading, hovering near their best levels of the day. The Dow is up 624.06 points or 1.9 percent at 33,919.01, the Nasdaq is up 166.87 points or 1.2 percent at 13,699.33 and the S&P 500 is up 78.14 points or 1.8 percent at 4,384.40.

The strength on Wall Street comes as the price of crude oil continues to surge, jumping to its highest levels in eleven years.

Energy stocks are benefiting from the spike in oil prices, which comes amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and OPEC’s decision to stick with plans for a modest increase in output.

A rebound by treasury yields is also contributing to significant strength among banking stocks, with the KBW Bank Index jumping by 3.8 percent after ending the previous session at a five-month closing low.

Computer hardware stocks are also seeing substantial strength on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index up by 3.8 percent.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has helped lead the sector higher after reporting better than expected quarterly earnings.

Steel, transportation and semiconductor stocks have also moved notably higher, while gold stocks are among the few groups bucking the uptrend.

On the U.S. economic front, payroll processor ADP released a report showing U.S. private sector employment jumped by much more than expected in the month of February.

ADP said private sector employment surged by 475,000 jobs in February compared to economist estimates for an increase of 388,000 jobs.

The report also showed a substantial revision to the January data, with the revised data showing employment spiked by 509,000 jobs compared to the previously reported loss of 301,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee the Fed still believes it will be appropriate to raise interest rates later this month, citing inflation well above 2 percent and a strong labor market.

The likely increase in interest rates comes even though Powell acknowledged that the Russia-Ukraine conflict has introduced significant uncertainty for the U.S. economic outlook.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1.7 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are showing a significant pullback after moving sharply higher over the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 13.4 basis points at 1.841 percent.

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