Stocks on U.S. exchanges jumped to gain the most in a month on Wednesday, aided by the promise of an extension of the Federal Reserve’s low interest-rate scenario, as interpreted by the markets from the minutes of the FOMC’s last meeting, but a corrective move could mean the gains are short-lived.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.27 percent while futures on the S&P 500 were down 0.27 percent and those on the Nasdaq were down 0.22 percent. On Wednesday, the Dow climbed 1.11 percent and the S&P 500 rose 1.09 percent while the Nasdaq rallied 1.72 percent.
“This would mean rates will stay low for longer. And even when the rates are raised it will be done in a slow and measured way, without any shocks,” Doug Cote, chief investment strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management, told MarketWatch, referring to concerns among Fed officials about low inflation. Fed officials, the minutes revealed, also agreed that the plan to focus on a 6.5 percent unemployment rate threshold to inform monetary policy and the timing of the first rate hike was no longer relevant.
On the earnings calendar, retailers Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO) and Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) are scheduled to announce first-quarter earnings before markets open. On the data front, jobless claims for week ended April 5 are expected at 8:30 a.m. EDT, and a Wall Street Journal consensus estimate expects the number to fall to 318,000 from the previous reading of 326,000.
In Europe, markets were down ahead of the Bank of England’s monetary policy decision with the Stoxx Europe 600 index down 0.48 percent while the FTSE 100 was down 0.14 percent. Germany’s DAX-30 fell 0.57 percent while France's CAC-40 was down 0.57 percent.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei-225 closed unchanged while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.31 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.51 percent and the Shanghai Composite was up 1.38 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.48 percent while India's BSE Sensex slipped 0.25 percent.