Wall Street closes with sharp gains as final quarter begins

WALL Street’s three major indexes rallied to close over 2% on Monday as US Treasury yields tumbled on weaker-than-expected manufacturing data, increasing the appeal of stocks at the start of the year’s final quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 765.38 points or 2.66% to 29,490.89; the S&P 500 gained 92.81 points or 2.59% at 3,678.43; and the Nasdaq Composite added 239.82 points or 2.27% at 10,815.44.

The US stock market has suffered three quarterly declines in a row in a tumultuous year marked by interest rate hikes to tame historically high inflation, and concerns about a slowing economy.

“The US yield markets (are) pulling back – that’s been a positive … and that connotes a more risk-on environment,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth in Boston.

Further supporting rate-sensitive growth stocks, the benchmark US 10-year Treasury yield fell after British Prime Minister Liz Truss was forced to reverse course on a tax cut for the highest rate.

All 11 major S&P 500 sectors advanced to positive territory with energy being the biggest gainer.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp rose more than 5%, tracking a jump in crude prices as sources said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies are considering their biggest output cut since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megacap growth and technology companies such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp rose over 3% respectively while banks advanced 3%.

Data showed manufacturing activity increased at its slowest pace in nearly two-and-a-half-years in September as new orders contracted, likely as rising interest rates to tame inflation cooled demand for goods.

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing PMI dropped to 50.9 this month, missing estimates but still above 50, indicating growth.

“The economic data stream actually came in worse than expected. In a very counter-intuitive fashion that likely represents good news for equity markets,” said Hogan.

“(While) good economic data, strong readings had been a catalyst for selling, this is the first time we’ve actually seen some negative news be a catalyst.”

All three major indexes ended a volatile third quarter lower on Friday on growing fears that the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy will tip the economy into recession.

Volume on US exchanges was 11.61 billion shares compared with the 11.54 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Tesla Inc fell 8.6% after it sold fewer-than-expected vehicles in the third quarter as deliveries lagged way behind production due to logistic hurdles. Peers Lucid Group gained 0.9% but Rivian Automotive fell 3.1%.

Major automakers are expected to report modest declines in US new vehicle sales, but analysts and investors worry that a darkening economic picture – not inventory shortages – will lead to weaker car sales.

Citigroup and Credit Suisse became the latest brokerages to lower 2022 year-end targets for the S&P 500 as US equity markets bear the heat of aggressive central bank actions to tamp down inflation.

Credit Suisse also set a 2023 year-end price target for the benchmark index at 4,050 points, adding that 2023 would be a “year of weak, non-recessionary growth and falling inflation”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 5.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.70-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and 23 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 282 new lows. – Oct 4, 2022

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