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Overnight Markets: Tech sector buoys Wall Street in wake of dovish Fed statement

Overnight Markets: Tech sector buoys Wall Street in wake of dovish Fed statement

A rally in the technology sector lifted Wall Street on Thursday as upbeat economic data allayed jitters over the Federal Reserve’s warning of an economic slowdown.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217 points, or 0.8%, to 25,963, marking its best daily gain since 15 February, while the S&P 500 index climbed 31 points, or 1.1%, to 2,855 and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 110 points, or 1.4%, to 7,839.

Investors were concerned after the Fed appeared more dovish in its policy statement than expected on Wednesday, as it forecast no further interest rate hikes this year due to signs of softness in the US economy. But those worries about the central bank’s signals on the economy were calmed by upbeat data on Thursday.

In separate reports, initial claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected and mid-Atlantic factory activity rebounded sharply.

The tech sector’s advance was led by Apple Inc, which rose 4.1% ahead of the company’s expected streaming service debut next week.  

Micron Technology Inc’s stocks jumped 8.5% after the chipmaker predicted a recovery in the memory market as it reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings.   

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index rose 3.5%, on track for its biggest percentage gain since late January. Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but financials were in positive territory.

Interest rate-sensitive banks were the weakest performers amid the flatting US Treasuries yield curve and the Fed’s prediction of fewer-than-expected rate hikes.

Conagra Brands Inc beat analysts’ quarterly earnings estimates as the packaged food maker raised prices to offset rising costs, sending its shares up 13.3%.

Shares of Biogen Inc plunged 29.1% after the company announced it would halt late-stage trials for its experimental Alzheimer’s drug.

Levi Strauss & Co soared 33.2% as investors welcomed the iconic jeans maker back to the stock market.

Ford Motor Co added 1.5% after the automaker announced it was hiring its first outsider as chief financial officer in seven decades.

In Asia, shares traded higher on Friday in morning session following an overnight surge on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.27%, while the Topix index advanced 0.13%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi rose 0.36%. Meanwhile, shares in Australia advanced 0.81%. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.15%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.40%.

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