US stocks push higher on Wall Street in afternoon trade

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rose Wednesday afternoon on Wall Street and erased weekly losses from major indexes as traders grapple with whether the Federal Reserve will succeed in its mission to tame inflation.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2% at 1:07 p.m. EST and is now in the green for the week. The benchmark has slid for three straight weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 293 points, or 0.9%, to 31,380 and the Nasdaq rose 1.3%.

Tech stocks and retailers made strong gains. Intuit increased by 3.6%.

Target rose 3.3% after announcing it was lowering the mandatory retirement age for its CEO position and allowing CEO Brian Cornell to stay on for three more years.

United Airlines rose 3.2% after raising its revenue forecast after a busy summer season. The encouraging update has helped several competitors to take off. American Airlines rose 2.2% and Delta Air Lines rose 1.8%.

Energy stocks fell overall as US crude oil prices fell 5%. Valero Energy fell 0.6%.

Bond yields fell. The 10-year Treasury yield, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other loans, fell to 3.27% from 3.34% on Tuesday evening. The two-year Treasury yield, which tends to track expectations for Fed action, fell to 3.46% from 3.51%.

Wall Street remains focused on inflation and the Fed’s attempt to rein in high prices by raising interest rates. The central bank has already hiked interest rates four times this year and markets expect it to deliver another three-quarters percentage point interest rate hike at their next meeting in two weeks.

The central bank has been clear on its determination to keep raising interest rates until it senses inflation is stabilizing or slowing. In June, Fed officials forecast the benchmark rate to reach a range of 3.25% to 3.5% by the end of the year and about half a percentage point higher in 2023.

“We’re here for as long as it takes to bring inflation down,” Fed Vice Chairman Lael Brainard said Wednesday at a banking industry conference. “Our determination is firm, our objectives are clear and our tools are up to the task.”

Investors have been looking at economic data to assess whether price increases on everything from food to clothing and gasoline are easing. They are also on the lookout for any hints about potential policy changes from Fed officials. On Thursday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell takes part in a conversation with the head of the Cato Institute on interest rate policy.

Markets in Europe and Asia were mostly down.

China’s trade weakened in August as high energy prices, inflation and anti-virus measures weighed on global and Chinese consumer demand, and Russian oil and gas imports slumped. jumped, according to Chinese customs data. Exports rose 7% year-on-year, decelerating from July’s 18% expansion, while imports contracted 0.2%, compared to already weak growth of 2.3% of the previous month. ___

AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this story.

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