Stocks rose toward all-time highs, with the S&P 500 briefly topping 3,000 for the first time before pulling back from that milestone level, as Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled a willingness to lower rates, citing a slowing global economy and trade issues. Powell, during his testimony to the House's Committee on Financial Services, said that the strong June employment report did not fundamentally change the Fed's economic outlook and minutes from the most recent FOMC meeting confirmed an inclination among officials to cut rates soon. Meanwhile, oil prices climbed to a seven-week high, rising 4.5% to $60.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after a report that crude oil inventories decreased by a greater than expected 9.5M barrels in the week ended July 5.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., the wholesale trade report for May slightly undershot estimates with a lean 0.1% wholesale sales gain and a May inventory gain of 0.4% that matched the advance reading.
According to minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, FOMC members noted that there are investor concerns about downside risks and highlighted increased uncertainty amid international trade tensions. Several Fed members see a near-term cut as a "cushion" to "adverse shocks" and that uncertainties and downside risks have increased "significantly" recently, according to the minutes.
TOP NEWS: Shares of American Airlines (AAL) rose 2% after the airline said it now expects its second quarter total revenue per available seat mile, or TRASM, to be up approximately 3%-4% percent year-over-year versus its previous guidance of up approximately 1%-3%, due primarily to higher than expected load factor across the system. Average seat miles for the second quarter were 1.1 billion lower than previous guidance due to flight cancellations and the company has cancelled all Boeing (BA) 737 MAX flying through September 3, American added.
Levi Strauss (LEVI) shares closed 12% lower after the jeans maker issued its second quarterly report since its IPO in March. However, JPMorgan analyst Matthew Boss reiterated an Overweight rating on the stock after the company reported adjusted Q2 EPS that beat the consensus forecast.
Meanwhile, Fed chair Jerome Powell said in testimony to the House's Committee on Financial Services that the central bank has set up a working group to look into Libra, Facebook's (FB) digital currency. Powell said that Libra "raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability." Facebook (FB) shares were about 2% higher at the close.
Additionally, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was in focus after Bloomberg reported that an appeals court has determined that J&J should get a new trial after a jury ordered the company to pay $417M to a woman who blamed the company's Baby Powder for causing her cancer.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was T-Mobile (TMUS), which gained nearly 5% after after being selected to replace Red Hat in the S&P 500. Also higher was McDermott (MDR), which rose 13% after confirming it has been awarded a contract in excess of $3B for Package 1 and a contract in excess of $1.5B for Package 4 of Saudi Aramco's Marjan Increment Development Mega-Project.
Among the notable losers was Amneal (AMRX), which fell 36% after the company announced a restructuring plan and cut its guidance. Also lower was Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT), which slid 7% after UBS analyst Navin Jacob, following a meeting with management, said reimbursement for the company's nonalcoholic steatohepatitis treatment Ocaliva will take time, especially in Europe. Further, Intercept's 60-day lockup period related to its May equity offering expired today, according to Bloomberg.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 76.71, or 0.29%, to 26,860.20
, the Nasdaq gained 60.80, or 0.75%, to 8,202.53, and the S&P 500 advanced 13.44, or 0.45%, to 2,993.07