Nasdaq ends at a record as bets on a Fed rate cut in July climb; S&P 500 touches 3,000

The Nasdaq on Wednesday scored a record close, its first in about a week, and the broader market finished at or near all-time highs as investors raised their expectations for a decrease in benchmark interest rates at the end of the month. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.75% closed up 0.8% at 8,202, notching its first record close since July 3. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.45% meanwhile, carved out a fresh intraday record at 3,002.89, briefly punching through a psychological milestone at 3,000. The index, however, pulled back from that level to close 0.5% higher at 2,993, just shy of its July 3 closing record at 2,995.82. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.29% finished with a gain of 77 points, or 0.3%, to reach 26,860 (all benchmark closing values are on a preliminary basis). Market participants reacted to comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who delivered his first in two days of semiannual congressional testimony, outlining the state of the domestic economy. The central bank boss said “uncertainties about the outlook have increased in recent months,” providing some cover for policy makers to cut rates by at least 25 basis points at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting on July 30-31. The market has been betting on greater rate reductions by the central bank’s rate-setting committee to combat U.S.-China trade headwinds. “In particular, economic momentum appears to have slowed in some major foreign economies, and that weakness could affect the U.S. economy.” On top that, an account of the Fed’s most recent policy meeting indicated that “many,” or a majority, were supportive of cutting rates which currently stand at a range between 2.25%-2.50%. In corporate news, shares of Levi Strauss & Co. LEVI, -12.00% fell sharply after the apparel company released second-quarter earnings Tuesday evening that showed

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