The Dow Jones Industrial Average thrust off its recent bearish trend during mid-day trading on Friday, surging to an 819 point gain after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reassured investors that the central bank would take stock market conditions into account when deciding whether to hike interest rates.
As of 1:11 pm ET, the Dow had risen 819.42 points or 3.61 percent in the hours since Friday’s opening bell, carrying the index to 23,505.42. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also firmly in the green, with the latter consolidating gains of just over 4.45 percent.
Individual companies making the biggest moves included ADM (+11.1 percent) and Nvidia (+7.1 percent), chipmakers hit hard following Apple’s China-induced revenue guidance cut. Netflix shares surged by 8.9 percent, while Mattel led the S&P 500 with an 11.3 percent gain.
Stocks had already been pointing up in pre-market trading, following reports that the United States and China — the world’s two largest economies — were continuing to hold high-level talks intended to put an end to the trade war that has roiled the markets over the past quarter. They were also buttressed by a phenomenal jobs report, which saw US nonfarm payrolls rise by 312,000 in December, smashing economist estimates by 70 percent.
However, the rally really set in after Powell said that the Federal Reserve will not pursue a “preset path” for interest rate hikes but will consider their potential impact on the market.
“As always, there is no preset path for policy,” Powell said during a roundtable discussion with former Fed Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. “And particularly with muted inflation readings that we’ve seen coming in, we will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves.”
US President Donald Trump had been sharply critical of the Fed’s interest rate policies, blaming Powell for contributing to the stock market’s downturn over the previous several months. Now, though, Trump seems to have found a new foil — or resurrected an old one — as he has turned his attacks to the House of Representatives, which as of this week is controlled by a Democratic majority.
From a Friday morning tweet:
As I have stated many times, if the Democrats take over the House or Senate, there will be disruption to the Financial Markets. We won the Senate, they won the House. Things will settle down. They only want to impeach me because they know they can’t win in 2020, too much success!
The new line of attack, coupled with Powell’s reassuring statements on the Fed’s economic policies, could cool tensions between the Fed chair and the president who appointed him to that office.
Some analysts had expressed concern that Trump might ask Powell to resign or take the legally-murky action of trying to fire him outright. Contrary to Trump’s expectations, analysts said that such a move would likely crater the US stock market, which has already seen the Dow dip 15 percent from its Oct. 3, 2017 all-time high, even further.
Powell, for his part, said on Friday that he would not resign if President Trump asked him to do so.
Featured image from Wikimedia Commons. Price Charts from TradingView.
Last modified: May 20, 2020 1:01 PM UTC