Stocks surge as investors hope Fed will slow its rate hikes

U.S. stock indexes rose sharply Wednesday as investors welcomed remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Powell hinted that the Fed might be willing to raise interest rates at a slower pace next year, a potential relief for investors worried about slowing economic growth.

Software maker Salesforce led a rally in technology companies and health care stocks were also higher. Luxury retailer Tiffany plunged after saying tourists from China pulled back on spending in its latest quarter.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index surged 37 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,720 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 424 points, or 1.7 percent, to 25,177. About half of that gain came shortly after noon, when the text of Powell’s speech was released.

The Nasdaq composite rose 116 points, or 1.6 percent, to 7,199. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 22 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,515.

KA-POWELL: In a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Powell said the financial system and markets appear far sturdier than they did before the 2008 crisis. Recent remarks by Powell and other officials have made investors more hopeful that the Fed might raise interest rates at a slower pace next year.

The Fed has been steadily raising those rates since the end of 2015 and is expected to announce another increase in December. But with economic growth in the U.S. and other regions likely to slow down next year, investors are concerned that rising interest rates will hinder the economy and the bull market.

Bond prices turned higher, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.04 percent from 3.05 percent. The yield on the 2-year note fell to 2.80 percent from 2.81 percent.

The dollar fell to 113.60 yen from

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