Wall Street indexes edged higher to records on Tuesday after Federal Reserve chair nominee Jerome Powell’s comments on interest rate hikes and deregulation fired up financial stocks.
JPMorgan (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) climbed about 2 percent, setting up the S&P financial index .SPSY for its biggest percentage gain in more than two weeks.
“When you look at the financials as a group, they probably have a couple of tail winds – in terms of how he (Powell) thinks about regulation and interest rates and certainly the progress being made so far on tax reform,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Boston.
Powell, in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, positioned himself as an heir to the central bank policies of current chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke.
He also defended the need to potentially lighten regulation on the financial sector.
Data pointing to better-than-expected consumer confidence also helped lift sentiment.
“There is much to like about equities from a macro and fundamental basis,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for November jumped to its highest in nearly 17 years. The index rose to 129.5 in November, compared with an increase to 124 expected by economists polled by Reuters.
The data follows a report on Monday that showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes hit a 10-year high in October and robust Cyber Monday and Black Friday shopping that pointed to a strong holiday shopping season