The US markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday, though the Dow industrials finished lower, as stock investors digested hawkish comments from Federal Reserve speakers and a drop in US gasoline inventories bolstered the energy sector. Investors are focusing too much on the drama of President Donald Trump and Congress to appreciate the economic underpinnings of the market. On the economy front, contract signings for home sales boomed in February to the second-highest level in a decade. Pending home sales rose 5.5% in February after falling 2.8% in January. That’s the highest level in close to a year. The National Association of Realtors forecasts a 2.3% rise in existing-home sales and a 4% rise in median home prices for 2017, after a 3.8% rise in existing sales and a 5.1% price rise in 2016.
Meanwhile, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said that the US Federal Reserve should raise interest rates three more times this year due to the strength of the economy. Rosengren, previously a long-time dove, last year began pushing for tighter monetary policy on fears that not raising rates amid strengthening economic data risked policymakers having to make faster-than-expected rate increases later on. With the unemployment rate at 4.7 percent and inflation rising toward the Fed’s 2 percent target rate, Rosengren enlightened that the risks are rising if the Fed waits too long to embark on a more regular pace barring a deterioration in economic indicators. The Boston Fed chief added that it seems likely the Fed will reach its goals on full employment and inflation by the end of 2017.
Separately, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at least twice this year and possibly up to four times - although that would require an improvement in fundamentals. Explaining why he is more cautious in his rate outlook than some of his colleagues, Evans added that the US could afford to build a small inflation buffer, letting price growth slightly overshoot the Fed’s 2 percent target instead of shooting exactly for the target.
The Nasdaq was up 22.41 points or 0.38 percent to 5,897.55, S&P 500 gained 2.56 points or 0.11 percent to 2,361.13, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 42.18 points or 0.20 percent to 20,659.32.
The Indian ADRs closed mostly in green; HDFC Bank was up 2.31%, Tata Motors was up 1.54%, Wipro was up 0.35% and ICICI Bank was up 0.30%. On the other hand, Dr. Reddy’s Lab was down 2.95%.