Markets Right Now: Stocks surge on hint of slower rate hikes

The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):

4 p.m.

Stocks surged on Wall Street, powering a 600-point gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the head of the Federal Reserve hinted at slower interest rate increases.

The market snapped higher shortly after noon Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the central bank might consider a pause in its interest rate hikes next year.

The Fed needs to raise interest rates to stave off inflation but investors fear they may also slow down economic growth.

Technology stocks posted some of the biggest gains. Salesforce.com surged 10.3 percent.

The Dow climbed 617 points, or 2.5 percent, to 25,366, its biggest gain in eight months.

The S&P 500 index rose 61 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,743.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 208 points, or 2.9 percent, to 7,291.

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1:33 p.m.

Stocks are moving sharply higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the central bank might consider a pause in its interest rate hikes next year.

Powell, in a speech in New York on Wednesday, said interest rates appear to be just below the level the Fed calls “neutral,” where they neither stimulate growth nor impede it. In October, he said rates were still well below neutral.

The prospect of slower interest rate increases was well received on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 497 points, or 2 percent, to 25,245 in afternoon trading. It more than doubled its gains after Powell made his remarks.

The S&P 500 index rose 47 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,729.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 157 points, or 2.2 percent, to 7,240.

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11:45 a.m.

U.S. stock indexes are rising as software maker Salesforce leads a rally in technology companies.

Salesforce jumped 4.3 percent in midday trading Wednesday

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