Wall Street up as energy, financials gain ahead of Yellen talk
Wall Street was higher on Monday morning, buoyed by energy stocks and a rebound in financial stocks following a pounding on Friday after a dismal jobs report all but ruled out chances of an interest rate hike in June.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who recently signaled that a rate hike could come as soon as June, is schedule to speak at 12:30 p.m. ET (1630 GMT) and investors will scrutinize her comments for clues on the timing of the next rate hike.
Expectations for a hike were pushed back to at least July after May non-farm payrolls data on Friday showed employers added far fewer jobs than economists expected.
Many traders suspect Yellen might craft her message to keep expectations for a July hike alive. The speech is likely to be her last before the Fed enters a media blackout period ahead of the its monetary policy meeting on June 14-15.
“We’re coming off of a session where a wrench was thrown into many economic models after the weak jobs data and investors are going to be looking for anything in Yellen’s speech that is going to address the weakness,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“The data is a wake up call and is going to create a greater look for any weak spots in the economy to remove the rate threat.”
Britain’s vote later this month on the continuance of its European Union membership is also a factor that could cause the Fed to rollback on its recent hawkish stand.
Traders are now pricing in an only 3.8 percent chance of a rate hike this month, while the odds of a July hike have slumped to 30 percent, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
At 9:43 a.m. ET (1343 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 60.51 points, or 0.34 percent, at 17,867.57.
The S&P 500 was up 4.99 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,104.12 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 5.46 points, or 0.11 percent, at 4,947.98.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by the energy index’s 1.2 percent gain as crude prices hit a six-month high of $50.40. [O/R]
Exxon and Chevron were up about 0.8 percent.
The biggest boost came from the financial index, which gained 0.66 percent. The index dropped 1.4 percent on Friday, weighing on the entire market, as chances of a rate hike in June faded.
Goldman was up 1 percent, while JPMorgan gained 0.8 percent.
Wal-Mart’s shares were up 0.5 percent at $71.19 after Jefferies upgraded the stock to “buy”.
AbbVie was down 4 percent at $62.41 after Cowen cut its rating on the stock to “market perform” from “outperform”.