U.S. stocks closed sharply higher Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average soaring more than 200 points in afternoon trading after opening mostly flat. All three major averages rallied roughly 1 percent as market professionals sorted through a series of economic data points on retail sales and industrial production.
The Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated two-day meeting kicks off Wednesday. Janet Yellen and policymakers will debate whether to raise U.S. interest rates, which would be the first increase in nearly a decade.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) jumped 228.89 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 16,599.85. The broad-based Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) added 25.06 points, or 1.28 percent, to end at 1,978.09. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) gained 54.76 points, or 1.14 percent, to finish at 4,8860.52.
All 10 of the S&P 500 sectors closed higher, led by nearly 2 percent gains in financial and industrial stocks. Dow component Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) led the index higher, adding more than 2.5 percent, while Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) was the only laggard, down 0.3 percent.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.27 percent, while the U.S. dollar gained against major world currencies, with the euro trading around $1.13.
Oil prices closed higher Tuesday after U.S. President Barack Obama announced he does not support a move on the House of Representatives to repeal a 40-year-old ban on exports of crude oil. Following the announcement, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, rose 1.3 percent to $44.59 per barrel for October delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the London ICE Futures Exchange, Brent crude rose 40 cents to $47.80.
Uncertainty surrounding whether the U.S. central bank will announce an interest rate hike continued to weigh on global stocks Tuesday. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index finished down 3.5 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.34 percent.
European stocks, however, closed higher. Germany's DAX and France's CAC rose 0.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Market professionals eyed a series of retail sales and industrial production data points Tuesday, searching for further clues as to whether the Fed will announce raising rates at its two-day policy meeting this week, which kicks off Wednesday, followed by a statement from the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Industrial production, a measure of output for the industrial sector of the economy, declined 0.4 percent in August from a 0.9 percent rise in July, worse than the expected 0.2 percent drop, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday.
Separately, U.S. retail sales rose in line with forecasts in August, suggesting the bout of financial turmoil last month did not cause a meaningful dent in consumption.
“Today's release will have little impact on the FOMC's policy meeting. It is roughly in line with expectations, confirming that consumer spending is increasing at a moderate pace,” Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group, said in a research note.
Although the headline retail sales increased by only 0.2 percent last month -- dragged down by a dip in gasoline station sales -- the so-called core retail sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, came in stronger than expected.
Core retail sales, excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, rose 0.4 percent after an upward revised 0.6 percent increase in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The overall gain in headline sales was helped by a 0.7 percent increase in motor vehicle sales after auto sales hit a decade high in August.
Economists had forecast retail sales to rise 0.3 percent in August after a previously reported 0.6 percent rise in July, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.