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Stocks Are Rising as Bond Yields Hold Steady

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A large container ship that had run aground blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal.

Media Suez Canal Head Office/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Stocks were up Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman
Jerome Powell
and Treasury Secretary
Janet Yellen
were set to testify before Congress once again and Germany canceled a five-day lockdown.

Shortly after the open, the 

Dow Jones Industrial Average

 was up 152 points, or 0.5%, while the 

S&P 500

 was up 0.4%. The 

Nasdaq Composite

gained 0.3%.

Powell and Yellen are expected to highlight the importance of monetary and fiscal support for the economic recovery. Investors are particularly tuned in to what Powell says about the recent jump in interest rates, which make stocks less attractive. Rates remained calm Wednesday, with the 10-year Treasury yield hovering at around 1.63%, unchanged from Tuesday’s close.

Germany, meanwhile, canceled a five-day lockdown it had planned for the Easter holiday just one day after announcing it.

The

Stoxx Europe 600 index

slipped 0.2%, while Asian stocks finished mostly lower, led by 2% declines each for the

Nikkei 225

and

Hang Seng

indexes. Worries that new Covid-19 restrictions rolling out across Germany and the Netherlands would crimp economic recoveries helped drive losses for global assets on Tuesday.

Fresh data showed a preliminary “flash” reading of the IHS Markit eurozone composite purchasing managers index rising to 52.5 in March from 48.8 in February. The rise above 50.0 marked the first gain in business activity since September 2020. But separately on Wednesday, German economic research group Ifo cut its growth forecast for that economy.

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Oil prices were also in focus a day after tumbling 6% into correction territory amid fears that Covid-19 lockdowns would crimp demand and a fast rebound. Both U.S. crude and Brent oil prices recouped some of those losses on Wednesday, up over 3% each after a massive cargo ship got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital waterway for global shipments.

Elsewhere, the American Petroleum Institute reported late on Tuesday that U.S. crude supplies rose by 2.9 million barrels for the week ended Mar. 19, according to sources.  

Among stocks to watch, shares of

Intel

(ticker: INTC) climbed 5.2% after Chief Executive
Pat Gelsinger
 committed the chip maker to spending billions to expand its manufacturing footprint. That had a positive read-across for some European chip names, such as ASML International and

ASML,

with those shares each up by 4% or more.

GameStop

(GME) shares tumbled 10.7% after the videogames retailer and one of Wall Street’s most popular meme stocks reported fiscal fourth-quarter results late on Tuesday that came in just short of expectations.

Zscaler

 (ZS) shares rose 0.7% after Truist upgraded the stock to Buy from Hold.

Estee Lauder

 (EL) shares rose 2.8% after Wells Fargo upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Alcoa

 (AA) was rising 7.5% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Freeport McMoRan

(FCX) shares were up 1.1% even after a downgrade to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley.

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