Stocks finished higher Wednesday as Wall Street welcomed new signals suggesting the Federal Reserve is ready to cut interest rates for the first time in a decade.
Technology stocks drove much of the gains, nudging the Nasdaq composite to an all-time high. The benchmark S&P 500 index briefly traded above 3,000 for the first time before pulling back to just below its most recent record high a week ago.
The market climbed early on after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said that many Fed officials believe a weakening global economy and rising trade tensions have strengthened the case for a rate cut.
Powell’s remarks, which he delivered as part of his semiannual monetary report to Congress, allayed investors’ concerns that an unexpectedly strong U.S. jobs report on Friday might give the Fed reason to stay put on interest rates.
“Investors are increasingly confident that the Fed will cut rates by a quarter-point at the end of the month, which most investors expected,” said Kate Warne, chief investment strategist at Edward Jones. “This removed a little bit of the uncertainty there, and that’s why we’re seeing stocks move higher.”
The S&P 500 index rose 13.44 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,993.07. The index, which set three record highs last week, is now less than 0.1 percent below its all-time high set last Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 76.71 points, or 0.3 percent, to 26,860.20.
The Nasdaq climbed 60.80 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,202.53, a record. Its previous record high was also set last Wednesday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks rebounded from a brief slide, gaining 2.46 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,565.05.
Major stock indexes in Europe closed mostly lower. The dollar fell and the price of gold rose.
The U.S. stock market rallied through much