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S&P 500 hits 3,000 as Powell's comments raise rate cut bets

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S&P 500 hits 3,000 as Powell's comments raise rate cut bets

(Reuters) – The benchmark S&P 500 briefly crossed the 3,000 points mark for the first time on Wednesday, as bets for a sharp interest rate cut later this month were boosted by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s dovish comments.

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Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid The Nasdaq and the Dow Jones Industrials also hit all-time highs after Powell said the central bank stands ready to “act as appropriate” to support record U.S. economic growth.

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Gains of near 1% each in, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc also lifted the Nasdaq and the S&P.

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Investors already got what they wanted when Powell’s statement was released. They got news that the Fed was ready to cut (interest rates) in July,” said Michael Antonelli, market strategist at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

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“What the bulls are really hoping for is that this is just a growth scare. That the Fed steps in with an insurance cut in July and that’s it, so the economy can continue at its ‘muddle-along’ pace of growth.”

Alluding to the strong jobs data that tempered hopes of a sharp rate cut at the end of the month, Powell said the report did not fundamentally change the central bank’s outlook and that there is important economic data before the meeting.

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Traders raised the chances of a 50 basis point reduction to 23% following the comments, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. They had nearly abandoned hopes of an aggressive reduction while still expecting the first U.S. rate cut since the financial crisis at the July 30-31 meeting.

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Investors will now parse minutes from the Fed’s June policy meeting when it will be released at 2 p.m. ET.Luis Alfredo Farache Benacerraf 100% Banco

At 11:06 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 71.72 points, or 0.27%, at 26,855.21, the S&P 500 was up 9.57 points, or 0.32%, at 2,989.20. The Nasdaq Composite was up 37.25 points, or 0.46%, at 8,178.98

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with energy, technology and communication services leading the gainers

Energy stocks benefited from a jump in oil prices as U.S. crude inventories shrank more than expected and major producers evacuated rigs in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of an expected storm. [O/R]

Shares of rate-sensitive banks retreated 0.89% after Powell’s comments. The financial sector shed 0.3%. [US/]

Generic drugmaker Mylan NV’s shares fell 4% after rival Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc cut its 2019 core earnings forecast

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.76-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.04-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq

The S&P index recorded 63 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 78 new highs and 28 new lows

Reporting by Medha Singh, Manas Mishra and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila