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Powell Pushes Stocks Down a Well, Mnuchin Pulls Them Up

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Mnuchin comments take S&P 500 up

As my colleague Jitendra Parashar wrote recently, the S&P 500 opened higher today after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that a deal is 90% done. At 12:43 PM ET, the S&P 500 was trading 0.26% higher while the Dow was up 0.33%. However, the S&P 500’s market breadth was negative with 249 stocks up and 254 down. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), which tracks the index, was up 0.2% at 1:00 PM ET.

Semiconductor and hardware stocks were upbeat on Mnuchin’s comments. Micron (MU) hit the roof on the back of better-than-expected earnings. At 12:51 PM ET, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was up 4.5% while Nvidia (NVDA) was up 6.4%. The iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) was up 3.5%. NVIDIA and AMD account for 7.3% and 4.8% of the ETF, respectively.

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What happened yesterday?

The market’s mood today was vastly different from yesterday, when Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments brought the bears out. Powell said the Fed is insulated from short-term political pressure. His comments came as President Trump is at loggerheads with the central bank. Trump would like to see the Fed cut rates faster. Powell’s comments suggested that this may not happen, bringing the S&P 500 down 0.95% yesterday.

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