By Mark DeCambre and Joy Wiltermuth
U.S. stock indexes finished on higher ground Wednesday, helped by surging energy stocks and positive economic data, even as investors remain fixated on next week’s Federal Reserve meeting.
Uncertainties have grown about the central bank’s monetary-policy plans, but also around how President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget bill fight in Washington will shake out for Wall Street.
How did stocks trade?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.05% climbed 236.82 points, or 0.7%, ending at 34,814.39.
The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.22% rose 37.65 points, or 0.9%, finishing at 4,480.70.
The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.47% advanced 123.77 points, or 0.8%,closing to 15,161.53.
On Tuesday , the Dow industrials dropped 292.06 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 34,577.57, the S&P 500 index fell 25.68 points, or 0.6%, to 4,443.05 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 67.82 points, or 0.5%, to 15,037.76.
What drove the market?
Stocks closed near session highs Wednesday, despite expectations that a choppy market likely will be the new normal until next week’s policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.
“It’s very hard [for the market to rise] in advance of the FOMC meeting,” Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco, said in a Wednesday phone interview.
“These are stomach churning days and we think it’s going to be very hard to gain any type of substantial positive momentum,” Hooper said. The Fed’s FOMC gathering is Sept. 21-22.
September historically tends to be a down month for the U.S. stock market. The Dow was off 1.6% so far this month through Wednesday, marking its worst 10 first trading days in September in a decade, while the S&P 500 was down 0.9% and the Nasdaq Composite was off 0.6% for the same stretch, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
With the help of peak “everything,” including fiscal stimulus from Washington and corporations raking in record profit, the S&P 500 already has powered about 19% higher this year, according to FactSet.
“I think most investors have been expecting a pretty decent market this year because of the reopening of the economy,” said Carin Pai, head of portfolio management, at Fiduciary Trust International, in a phone interview. “But to see almost a 20% return on the market so far this year, that probably has been better than what most people expected.”
Pai now thinks the scuffle in Washington over the Biden administration’s planned $3.5 trillion budget , which aims to bolster American families and the nation’s aging infrastructure, is a focus for investors, namely in terms of how corporate taxes shake out.