Wall St. ends higher as Powell assuages rate worries

STORY: Wall Street ended sharply higher on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled the central bank would likely NOT raise interest rates as high as some investors had feared.

In testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said he is inclined to support a 25 basis point rate hike in March, quelling some concerns about the potential for a more aggressive hike.

James Bruderman is Vice Chairman of 1879 Advisors.

"With Powell's testimony today, what the markets are taking away is that Powell’s got his pulse on where we are both in the economy and on the geopolitical front. That he’s supporting a quarter of a basis point increase and not a half of a basis point, like a lot of hawks were calling for, suggests that he’s going to be nimble in his approach to sopping up the outstanding liquidity in the markets.”

The Dow rose 1.8%, the S&P 500 gained 1.9% while the Nasdaq climbed 1.6%.

Powell's comments helped calm investors after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent markets into a tailspin.

Energy shares resumed their march higher, with the S&P 500 energy index rallying 2.2% as Brent crude jumped to near eight-year highs.

In individual movers, Apple ended 2% higher after announcing a product launch for March 8, when it is expected to promote a low-cost version of its popular iPhone with 5G.

And Nordstrom surged 38% after the department store chain forecast upbeat full-year revenue and profit.