The S&P 500 eked out a small gain Wednesday as an Apple-led rally in tech was kept in check by losses in energy and financial stocks as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell backed the Fed's accommodative monetary policy stance.
S&P 500 added 0.12%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.13%, or 44 points, the Nasdaq fell 0.22%.
Powell didn't deviate from his recent remarks before Congress on Wednesday, as the Fed chair continued to view the factors pushing up inflation as temporary, and reiterated the central bank's commitment to keep the easy monetary policy measures in place to support job gains. There is still long a way to achieve "substantial further progress" on maximum unemployment, Powell said in prepared remarks to the House Financial Services Committee.
The remarks arrive against further signs that price pressures are building as producer inflation surprised to the upside.
Producer Price Index rose 1.0% on the month, above economists expectations of 0.5%.
The inflation numbers “have been higher than expected and hoped for, but they're actually still consistent with what we've been talking about,” Powell said in his semi-annual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. “[I]t's just the perfect storm of high demand and low supply, and it should pass.”
The somewhat dovish remarks kept U.S. bond yields low, exacerbating concerns that banks will struggle to generate meaningful returns on their loan products in a low-rate environment.
Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) reported quarterly results that beat on the top and bottom lines, while Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) missed on the bottom line, sending its share price down 3%.
Energy, however, led the decliners as oil prices fell sharply amid ongoing struggles between OPEC and its allies to reach a consensus on production levels.
UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al Mazrouei said Wednesday that an agreement had not been reached yet with OPEC+ on an extension of an oil supply deal. The news cooled earlier reports that the major oil producing nations were inching closer to a deal, and overshadowed positive data showing weekly U.S. crude supplies fell by 7.9 barrels last week.
Tech, however, supported the broader market, led by rally in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) on a Bloomberg reports that the tech giant is ramping its iPhone production by 20% amid expectations for a jump in demand.
Other large cap tech stocks including Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT were also in the green. While Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) ended lower.
In political news, General Motors (NYSE:GM) fell 1% after warning owners of the 2017-2019 Bolt electric vehicle not to park their autos inside or charge them unattended overnight after two of the vehicles caught fire.