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Wall St climbs as lower Treasury yields lift megacap stocks

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Sruthi Shankar and Bansari Mayur Kamdar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes rose on Monday as Treasury yields pulled back further ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony and jobs data this week that could offer fresh cues on the trajectory of interest rates.

Rate-sensitive megacap stocks including Apple Inc (NASDAQ:), Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:) and Meta Platforms were the top boosts to the and the Nasdaq as the yield on U.S. slipped to its lowest since March 1 at 3.91%.

The two-year yield inched down to 4.85% after touching its highest since 2007 last week. [US/]

Rising bond yields tend to weigh on equity valuations, particularly those of growth and technology stocks, as higher rates reduce the value of future cash flows.

The three main U.S. stock indexes rallied on Friday and notched weekly gains as yields pulled back from their peaks after comments from Fed policymakers calmed jitters around aggressive rate hikes.

Powell will testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday and investors will watch for clues on the policy outlook, after recent strong economic data and hot inflation numbers fueled bets that the central bank could raise interest rates to a higher-than-expected level.

“Investors are bracing for Powell’s comments tomorrow and I don’t think he’s going to say very much from what he has been saying all along. The Fed has been basically setting the stage for further rate hikes, perhaps beyond May and the market is well aware of that,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Traders expect at least three more 25-basis-point hikes this year and see interest rates peaking at 5.44% by September from 4.67% now.

U.S. stocks have turned quite volatile in recent weeks after a strong performance at the start of this year as investors factor in the possibility of rates remaining higher for longer. The benchmark S&P 500 is up 5.4% so far this year after a 19.4% plunge in 2022.

Investors are awaiting factory orders data for January, due at 10:00 a.m. ET, to assess the impact of higher rates on the manufacturing sector.

At 9:48 a.m. ET, the was up 58.51 points, or 0.18%, at 33,449.48, the S&P 500 was up 9.61 points, or 0.24%, at 4,055.25, and the was up 32.73 points, or 0.28%, at 11,721.74.

Shares of Apple climbed 1.9% after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:) initiated coverage on the iPhone maker with a “buy” rating.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies Alibaba (NYSE:) and PDD Holdings slipped 0.9% and 2.7%, respectively, after China set a modest annual economic growth target of about 5%, below market expectations of 5.5%-plus growth.

Shares of cryptocurrency-related companies fell after Silvergate Capital (NYSE:) Corp pulled the plug on its crypto payments network, after raising doubts on the company’s ability to stay in business. The California-based bank slid 10.4%, while peer Signature Bank (NASDAQ:) declined 1.7%.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.06-to-1 ratio on the NYSE, while decliners outnumbered advancers for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 14 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 55 new highs and 22 new lows.

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